Dr. Valentina Cuzzocrea


Junior Fellow am Max-Weber-Kolleg
von September 2016 bis September 2017


Zur Person

Curriculum Vitae

I am a sociologist mainly interested in youth and qualitative research methods. This interest is articulated in several directions: youth and work, youth and biographical temporalities, youth and mobility, youth and participation and domestication of public space. I hold a PhD in Sociology (2008) from the University of Essex, UK, where I also completed an MA in Sociology (2004). Prior to that, I gained a Laurea (four-year undergraduate degree) with laude in Political Science, Università di Cagliari (2002).

I am the coordinator of the European Sociological Association Research Network Youth and Generation (2015-2017) following the role of vice coordinator (2013-2015) and board member (2011-2013), and one of the 25 appointed members of the Pool of European Youth Researchers to support the CoE-EC Youth Partnership on matters of youth policy (2014-).

Before joining the Max-Weber-Kolleg in Sept 2016 under the programme Marie Curie Cofund H2020 for senior researchers I worked as a lecturer in general sociology at the University of Cagliari, Italy, where I was a team member of the project ‘Youth, Citizenship and the Capacity to Aspire’ (ifuture). I have also been research associate at the University of Kent, UK, on a 7FP project called ALICE RAP (Addiction and Lifestyles in Contemporary Europe. Reframing Addictions Project), and previously a research fellow at the University of Cagliari, funded by the Region of Sardinia (under the programmes ‘Borsa Giovani Ricercatori’ in 2010-2012 and ‘MA & Back: Percorso di rientro’ in 2007-2009). I have participated to the PRIN (Italian Government funds) research projects ‘The construction and re-construction of space-time in daily practices’ and ‘An analysis of everyday life: the interconnections between social, individual and inter-subjective time’.

Over the years, I have supplemented my research with some policy oriented work, and worked as research consultant in youth related projects, for example for the Council of Europe for the platforms ‘Tranzit’ and ‘Edgeryders’. Among others, I have contributed to the work of the ‘Second European Youth Work Convention’ and the ‘European Platform for Learning Mobility’. 

I have held courses in introductory and advanced sociology, and theory and methods of social research for first year and post graduate students between 2007 and 2009 and between 2012 and 2016 at the University of Cagliari. Previously, I have been graduate teaching assistant in the Dept of Sociology at the University of Essex.    

For a full cv, please email me.


Time and space in the transition to adulthood: setting the basis for empirical investigations on youth

There is extensive research on the growing uncertainty in young people’s lives, focusing on the difficulties met in the transitions to adulthood in different spheres of life, whether private or public. These struggles are somehow exacerbated by the assumption, rarely challenged (Cuzzocrea and Collins 2015), that the route to adulthood implies a lonely journey. What has been sociologically conceptualised as a postponement of the markers of adulthood (Cavalli and Galland 1996 among many others) can be seen as a sign of a diffuse difficulty in making one’s own way into the adult world. For instance, the precarity of career paths -often having serious implication on one’s private life such as the deferral of parenthood - is one element of an overarching difficulty in participating to public life and assuming public roles of several kinds.

But where do these struggles are supposed to take place? And through what temporalities, given that linear time does not explain anymore the structure and experience of young people’s lives?  On one side, if we can start agreeing that choices that are taken while becoming an adult cannot be assumed to happen ‘at home’, a lot remains to investigate regarding what it is not ‘home’ –not yet, but may become so. How to make sense of ‘spatial reflexivity’ (Cairns et al. 2013; Cairns 2014), to account for youths’ reasons for wanting (or not wanting) to move for a study or work experience, for instance? On another side, the notion that young people find themselves taking time before embarking on one path or another, or while doing so, is seen as a constitutive element of the transition itself- the so-called psychosocial moratorium (Erikson 1968), whether in erratic forms or under institutionalised shapes (eg gap years). However, while the need for exploration brings along some positive aspects and openess to the future, forms of ‘time taking’ such as ‘waithood’ are more slippery and may hide ambivalent sides of youth’s agency. 

The research line I will develop while at MWK intends to explore contextually notions of time and space in the transitions to adulthood, elaborating on the contribute that social theory can bring to the study of young people and critically assessing the ‘mobility turn’ discourse in view of the fundamental need of young find for themselves a place in the (adults) world. This work is intended to be preparatory for further empirical investigations on this theme.