Special Issue "Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Vitor Sérgio Ferreira

Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Website | E-Mail
Interests: youth cultures; transitions to adulthood; life course; sociology of youth; sociology of the body; qualitative methods

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nowadays, the discourse on generations is prolific and widespread in the public sphere. Generational categories as “millennials”, “digital natives”, “net” or “lost” generation, generation “m”, “x”, “y” or “z”, among many other labels, are very often used by mass media and popular press to underline particular social orientations (values, attitudes, ethics or beliefs) or practices attributed to contemporary young people. They are measured up against older age cohorts—also identified by generational categories (“baby boomers”, “silent” or “traditionalist” generation)—in order to emphasize intergenerational gaps, conflicts or flows within very diverse life domains. However, this pervasiveness of generational discourses in the media is not accompanied by in-depth analytical engagement and scientific research. A great deal of speculation and overstatement is based in fragmented evidence, mainly produced by market and marketing companies, taking for granted that different age cohorts have generational equivalence and giving pop labels to consumer profiles.

Resting on the field of youth studies, the purpose of the Special Issue “Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations” is to engage in a conceptual and critical discussion on different generational approaches, based in quantitative and/or qualitative empirical evidence on topics as diverse as life ethics, behaviours and discourses on work and employment, politics and citizenship, consumption, body, sexuality, technology, family, religion, spirituality, etc. For this purpose, Societies invites manuscripts of original research and conceptualization addressing different dimensions of values, practices and discourses on generations from the multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary field of youth studies.

Dr. Vitor Sérgio Ferreira
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • Generations and structural change
  • Generational conscience, reflexivity or subjectivity
  • Generational categories and discursive formations
  • Intergenerational flows, gaps or conflicts
  • Political uses of generation discourse
  • Life ethics, attitudes and practices

Published Papers (1 paper)

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Still Troubled: Tunisia’s Youth During and Since the Revolution of 2011
Societies 2017, 7(4), 29; doi:10.3390/soc7040029
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 30 October 2017
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This paper presents evidence from interviews in 2015–2016 with a nationally representative sample of Tunisia’s 15–29 year olds. We focus on the sample’s political participation and orientations during the revolution of 2011 and subsequently. We find that just 6.6 percent of those aged
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This paper presents evidence from interviews in 2015–2016 with a nationally representative sample of Tunisia’s 15–29 year olds. We focus on the sample’s political participation and orientations during the revolution of 2011 and subsequently. We find that just 6.6 percent of those aged 15–24 at the time played any direct part in the ‘events of 2011’. Political engagement then and subsequently is shown to have been influenced most strongly by a university education and growing up in a politically engaged family. In 2015–2016, young people were overwhelmingly pro-democracy, supported equal opportunities and status for the sexes, and endorsed values of self-expression, but attached equal importance to economic security and betterment, felt that their country’s traditions should be maintained and respected, and were personally religious, though three-quarters wanted religion to be kept out of politics and government. Although Tunisia is the sole Arab Spring country to emerge with a still functioning (in 2017) multi-party democracy, we find that in 2015–2016, the majority of young people did not trust their elected politicians. Our survey findings suggest explanations for the paradox between young Tunisians’ overwhelming support for democracy alongside intense disappointment with the outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Politics, Religion And Leisure Among Arab Mediterranean Youth: The Case Of Tunisia
Abstract: The paper uses evidence from a quantitative survey in 2015-16 of 2000 15-29 year olds, and the associated qualitative fieldwork, to examine the roles of politics, religion and leisure in the lives of Tunisia’s young people. This is the country where, in 2011, young people were prominent in the protests which led to the flight of President Ben Ali on January 14th, which led to the country’s political transformation into a multi-party democracy with contested elections. The events in Tunisia also sparked the wave of protests (the Arab Spring) which spread across North Africa and into the Middle-East. We find that politics was playing a minor role in most young people’s lives in 2016. Four-fifths were politically unengaged apart from following political news and sometimes voting in elections. Tunisia has become a typical Western-type democracy in this respect. Access to formal leisure was depressed by a chronic job deficit and low incomes. In contrast, their faith was important to most young people though it proved unrelated to levels and types of political engagement or to uses of free time. This could be part of specific Arabic/Islamic versions of secularisation and modernisation.
Keywords: Arab Spring; leisure; politics; religion; Tunisia; youth

Title: Do generational differences in work values exist?
Abstract: A common stereotype emerging in political speeches and everyday conversations about the younger generations paints them as less and less work oriented. Specifically, they are seen to be increasingly less ready to perceive work as the centre of their identity or working hard in the interests of developing a career.
The aim of our paper is twofold. First, we summarize the theoretical and methodological challenges facing analysis of generational differences regarding work-related values. Second, using data from cross-national surveys (World Values Survey/European Values Study, International Social Survey Programme) from OECD countries (n=cca. 130.000) we test empirically whether work values differ between birth cohorts, age groups, and periods.
Keywords: work values, generational differences, age-period-cohort analysis

Title: “‘Who is throwing the stones?’ Conundrums of youth research in Guinea and Uganda”
Abstract: Youth has been at the center of academic debates on sub-Saharan Africa for over a decade. Quantitative and qualitative approaches alike have focused on youth as a decisive social category, be it for violent political conflict (e.g. Urdal 2007; Sommers 2011), social norm changes (e.g. Abbink and van Kessel 2005; Honwana and de Boeck 2005; Klouwenberg and Butter 2011), or economic development (e.g. Drummond, Thakoor, and Yu 2014; UNFPA 2017). These debates are helpful to inform today’s broader, global concern with youth, particularly on a methodological level, where researchers are confronted with a persistent divide between micro-level case studies on the one hand and sweeping generalizations on the other. This paper critically reflects on comparative methods as a tool to overcome that divide. Based on ethnographic fieldwork between 2009 and 2014, it discusses young men’s involvement in urban protests and riots in Guinea and Uganda. The two cases offer an intriguing conundrum: while both featured a significant participation of young people in urban unrest, the salience of the youth category was highly uneven. Protesters were defined (and self-defined themselves) as youth in the case of Guinea, but not in the case of Uganda. How does ‘youth’ matter, then, both as an empirical phenomenon and as a concept? The paper suggests a strong relational perspective to elaborate and respond to this question, highlighting that ‘youth’ intersect significantly with other social categories, historical contexts, and, not least, academic research designs, before they are singled out as a crucial social category in academic research and the media.


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