Held every four years by the International Sociological Association, the congress offers sociologists from all around the world the opportunity to meet, share their work, and exchange ideas. The 2018 ISA World Congress of Sociology was held in Toronto, Canada and team members Jonathan Smith and Jacqueline Laughland-Booy were able to showcase some findings from the project.
Jonathan presented two papers. First, he spoke about digital inequality and the idea that some young people may benefit more from using the internet than others. This is an idea he tested by asking Our Lives participants about the extent to which they would be affected if they were unable to use the internet in a range of life domains. His findings showed that factors such as males, those with less post-schooling education, and those who grew up in rural areas with poorer internet access, tended to make narrower use of the internet in their everyday lives. This may have enduring implications for how well these groups are able to adapt to and benefit new innovations in digital and social media across their lifetimes.
Second, Jonathan presented his research on links between between insecure employment and psychological distress, drawing on data from the Our Lives project as well as the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY). His findings show that young adults employed on a casual rather than permanent basis were likelier to display high levels of psychological distress, particularly if they were also studying at university. Certain groups, including females, those with alternative sexual orientation, those from less educated background attending university as the ‘first in the family’, may also be at greater risk of distress. Encouragingly, social support, particularly from one’s parents and best friend, helped to counteract young people’s distress levels.
Reporting results from qualitative interviews undertaken with 50 participants in 2017, Jacqueline presented a distributed paper on the expectations of young Australian adults regarding work and working in the 21 st century. She reported participants’ views regarding the extent to which their chosen careers are likely to change in the future and the various strategies they will use to ensure that they remain employable over the decades to come. As she explained, participants are well aware that their careers will likely undergo some dramatic transformations but are confident in their ability to adapt should the need demand.
Although it was a long way to travel, the trip was definitely worthwhile. We look
forward to the World Congress in 2022 which will be held much closer to home in Melbourne.