The study of young people has become a mainstay of social science. Education, employment, leisure, criminality, family life are all spheres within which the different experiences of young people have been examined. The principal tool for many of these studies has been a focus on transitions, looking at origins, journeys and destinations. The transition from school to work has been given the most attention, but increasingly there is interest in other life transitions such as (i) family development through relationships, marriage and children; and (ii) setting up a home outside that in which one was brought up. The focus on youth transitions has been found to be of use in both theoretical and policy developments. This paper reviews debates in the contemporary field of youth research and argues that only through taking a context-specific transitional approach, focusing primarily on education and employment, can one fully understand and theorise the position of young people in society.