‘You are stealing our future’
: a narrative inquiry into the experiences of Youth Climate Strikers in Bristol, 2020

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Science (MSc)


Young people have the highest stake in the future of the planet. As educators and researchers, we must consider our role in envisaging possible futures with the youth of today. It is proposed that the first step in this task is to listen to the experiences of youth climate activists. This study begins that process using a methodology inspired by narrative inquiry. The Youth Strike 4 Climate (YS4C) movement has successfully used a powerful narrative to mobilise youth activists on a global scale against the perceived inaction of world leaders in the face of an existential threat. The meta-narrative, which draws on emotive language and concepts of inter-generational justice, is termed the ‘stolen future’ narrative for the purposes of this study. It is used as a framework through which to investigate the vital components of the YS4C story and to imagine the lifespace of the study. Subsequently, the lived experiences of five participants from Bristol YS4C are explored through narrative inquiry. In this report the five narratives are re-told and analysed and comparisons are drawn between the meta-narrative and the lived experiences of the individuals. It is found that the stories as told by the participants provide a richer, contextualised understanding of the lived realities of the activists than the meta-narrative offers. The findings reveal conflicting notions of youth role within the movement, as well as gaps in emotional intelligence. The level of nuance evident in the findings demonstrates the need for open participatory methods of research which place the emphasis on real lived experiences and attend to issues of place, sociality and temporality. From these findings, further steps towards the collaborative task of world-building are proposed.
Date of Award9 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorDavid Sands (Supervisor)

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