Agents of Transition? Young workers experiences of using private employment agencies in three Midlands cities

Phillip Mizen*, Arlene Robertson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little attention has been given to young workers’ uses of private employment agencies as part of their job search and this paper seeks to rectify this omission. It does so by presenting a critique of recent interventions into the sociological debate about young people’s agency, especially as this applies to the transition from education to employment. By drawing upon recent realist sociology, the argument is developed that recent debate presents either an over-socialised or individualistic account of young people’s agency unable to establish meaningful accounts of young people’s decision-making and action. In contrast, the social realist emphasis on the reflective and deliberative human agent is used to construct an alternative understanding of young people’s decisions to use employment agencies by emphasising the importance of reflective deliberation, subjective intentionality and opposition. These themes are then explored by drawing on a large qualitative research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and providing unique and original data of the experiences of 134 young people making transitions into precarious employment in three cities in the Midlands of England.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number0
Early online date4 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Youth Studies on 4 August 2020, available online at:


  • agency
  • precarious employment
  • transition
  • work


Dive into the research topics of 'Agents of Transition? Young workers experiences of using private employment agencies in three Midlands cities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this