‘Flexible ongoing’: the young university student as homo promptus

Lucas Walsh, Rosalyn Black

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    Drawing from a study of young university students in Australia, France and the U.K., homo promptus represents the authors’ effort to trace how young people are positioned within discourses of higher education and employment to provide a conceptual shape to emergent characteristics of their otherwise diverse lives. We suggest that homo promptus is: entrepreneurial and strategic; plans adaptively for the future while living life in the short-term; not tethered to a single place; permanently in ‘situational’ mode and lives in waithood. We also argue that overlaying the figure of homo promptus is a complex affective combination of optimism, pessimism and anxiety evident in our interviewees’ narratives. We then briefly attempt to reflexively locate ourselves as youth researchers in relation to the study from which this paper is drawn, outlining certain caveats and limitations of presenting another limited figure of youth, as discussed previously by Threadgold (2019) in this journal, but one which seeks to bring some clarity to the sometimes messy work of youth research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)499-514
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Youth Studies
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


    • higher education
    • Homo promptus
    • precarity
    • young people
    • youth employment

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