At first glance, youth would seem to be a very straightforward concept. It is a period of life, sandwiched between childhood and adulthood. Being there is framed by a number of identifiable physical and psychological characteristics. Yet, defining what youth is, and who belongs there, is increasingly a matter of debate. Rethinking Youth (Wyn and White, 1997) was written to provide a perspective on this debate – one of several books and articles that were published at that time, arguing that a new approach was needed.1 The distinctive feature of each of these works is that they take a sociological approach to the study of young people, emphasizing the interplay between social conditions and individual lives. In this article, I present the key elements of our “rethinking” of the concept of youth and briefly discuss what this means for practice. Why Rethink Youth? Basically, rethinking the concept of youth is necessary because the social, economic and political conditions under which young people are growing up are changing. Yet, thinking about youth, adolescence and young people-and the policies that address their needs-continues to carry a strong legacy from concepts that gained currency in the 1950s. These concepts were framed by developmental psychology approaches, which carried the assumption that social and physical maturation were closely linked. The idea that there were identifiable and [universal stages of development] and of identity formation was plausible in the 1950s, when patterns of life were in many respects more predictable than they are today. The notion of a linear progression through a series of linked stages was reinforced by the practices of many young people. A profession grew out of this idea and catered to the conce