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Adolescent Sociality across Cultures: Establishing a Japan-UK Collaboration

10 December 2018

The Grand Challenges are delighted to announce the success of Dr Emily Emmott, Teaching Fellow in Biological Anthropology, UCL Anthropology, in receiving a seed grant of £50,000 from ESRC-AHRC for her cross-national project examining adolescent sociality in Japan and England.

The project builds on the workshop Dr Emmott ran as part of her Teen Views on Adolescence project, funded by Grand Challenge’s ‘Adolescent Lives’ initiative. As Dr Emmott and the project team outline: “Given how our social world can impact our health and behaviour, it is important for researchers to understand the nature and consequences of adolescent sociality. In this project, we will establish a long-term collaboration on adolescent sociality in Japan and the UK, with particular focus on adolescent social networks and communication.”

To do so, the project will establish four urban/rural field sites, developing long-term relationships with schools in Tokyo and Aomori in Japan, and London and Torbay in England. The project will also run a participation project on "family & friends" with teenagers, where adolescents will document stories and photographs about the people that are important to them. Their stories will be shared with participating partner schools in Japan and the UK, and exhibited at University College London. The project’s aim is to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between schools and researchers. 

In addition, the project will seek to develop a cross-national survey on adolescent sociality and explore the best ways to collect data across the two countries. The team will also establish an Adolescent Sociality Research Network by organising two ‘Idea Exchange’ workshops (one in each country), and by creating an international community of researchers interested in adolescent sociality through web forums and open science activities.

Overall, the project’s activities will establish and maintain long-term collaborations between evolutionary social scientists in Japan and the UK, centring on adolescent sociality. As Dr Emmott explains, “By comparing different groups of adolescents between and within countries, we are better able to investigate the determinants and consequences of adolescent sociality. With growing international interest around adolescence in policy and research, and recent focus on the ontogeny of sociality through the life-course, our cross-national collaboration is a timely contribution to the broader study of adolescence & human sociality.”

Further information regarding the project is available on the ESRC website. Dr Emmott is Co-PI of the project, along with Dr Masahito Morita from the University of Tokyo. Collaborators also include UCL, LSHTM, University of Tokyo and Hirosaki University.