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

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 June 2018

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 double-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. 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.

Keywords

  • 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 (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Transitions to Adulthood and Generational Change in Portugal
Societies 2018, 8(2), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8020021
Received: 22 February 2018 / Revised: 3 April 2018 / Accepted: 4 April 2018 / Published: 7 April 2018
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Abstract
Much of the research on contemporary youth in Western societies has shown that transitions to adulthood are being postponed, protracted, and becoming more complex (i.e., less likely to follow a predictable and “orderly” sequence as in earlier generations). Extended schooling periods, changes in
[...] Read more.
Much of the research on contemporary youth in Western societies has shown that transitions to adulthood are being postponed, protracted, and becoming more complex (i.e., less likely to follow a predictable and “orderly” sequence as in earlier generations). Extended schooling periods, changes in the labor market and challenges to obtaining autonomous housing are some of the top drivers for such change. Demographers interpret such developments as a sign of a second demographic transition, whereas sociologists stress that they are a consequence of the broader process of social individualization, by which individuals are assuming an increasingly central role in the organization of their lives. While in younger cohorts the evidence base is strong concerning transitions to adulthood, in some national contexts comparisons with the past rely on impressionistic accounts or to easily assume that some social, economic, and cultural factors were present. Drawing on data from the “Family Trajectories and Social Networks: The life course in an intergenerational perspective” research project, this paper re-examines the transitions to adulthood of three Portuguese cohorts (born in 1935–1940, 1950–1955 and 1970–1975), namely in what concerns their timing, duration, and sequence. This is achieved by looking at their life-calendars across different domains (namely family and intimate relations, school, and work). Analysis of the results allows us to discuss critically to what extent current transitions to adulthood are different and to assess cohort heterogeneity according to class and gender. Additionally, it enables us to frame discussions on generational and structural change more adequately in Portugal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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Open AccessArticle Towards a Conceptualization of Young People’s Political Engagement: A Qualitative Focus Group Study
Societies 2018, 8(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8010017
Received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 3 March 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
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Abstract
Disenchantment with politics and low electoral turnout does not mean young people are not engaged with politics. However, our understanding of what being ‘politically engaged’ entails is somewhat challenged by the lack of consensus concerning the definition of this particular concept. Furthermore, existing
[...] Read more.
Disenchantment with politics and low electoral turnout does not mean young people are not engaged with politics. However, our understanding of what being ‘politically engaged’ entails is somewhat challenged by the lack of consensus concerning the definition of this particular concept. Furthermore, existing conceptualizations of political engagement and participation (offline and online) often center on a limited set of political action items, failing to realize that a person can be politically engaged but not participate in political actions. Despite attempts to understand how young people themselves define politics, there are insufficient youth specific explanations of what being politically engaged means. In the present study, focus groups including young people (18–24 years) were conducted to examine understandings of political engagement. Participants were also asked to group a set of items they considered most accurately assessed this construct. Using the results, a conceptualization is proposed taking into account young people’s definitions of political engagement; this suggests that young people consider political engagement to have emotional and cognitive dimensions but also to be conceptually distinct from political participation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessArticle A Global Generation? Youth Studies in a Postcolonial World
Societies 2018, 8(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8010014
Received: 30 November 2017 / Revised: 29 January 2018 / Accepted: 19 February 2018 / Published: 27 February 2018
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Abstract
Today’s young people navigate a world that becomes simultaneously more interconnected and less capable of silencing long-standing inequities. What analytical perspectives does a sociology of youth and generations require in such a context? This paper makes two suggestions: to conceptualize generations as global
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Today’s young people navigate a world that becomes simultaneously more interconnected and less capable of silencing long-standing inequities. What analytical perspectives does a sociology of youth and generations require in such a context? This paper makes two suggestions: to conceptualize generations as global rather than regionally bound (cf. Mannheim 1928) and to transgress the colonial bifurcation of academia between sociology for the so-called ‘modern’ world and area studies and anthropology for the so-called ‘developing’ world. Drawing from a large body of literature on African youth that has hitherto remained unheeded in youth studies, as well as from postcolonial theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Guinea and Uganda, I argue that academic representations of African youth constitute a particularly insightful repertoire for investigating the methodological challenges and potentials of a global sociological perspective on youth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessArticle Age, Period, and Cohort Differences in Work Centrality and Work Values
Societies 2018, 8(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8010011
Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 5 February 2018 / Accepted: 7 February 2018 / Published: 12 February 2018
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Abstract
In this paper, we analyze whether work values differ between three dimensions of time (age, birth cohort, period). Using data of five waves of the World Values Survey and the European Values Study from more than forty countries and hierarchical age-period-cohort regression models,
[...] Read more.
In this paper, we analyze whether work values differ between three dimensions of time (age, birth cohort, period). Using data of five waves of the World Values Survey and the European Values Study from more than forty countries and hierarchical age-period-cohort regression models, we did not find relevant gaps between birth cohorts with respect to the relative importance of work or with respect to work values. Thus, we claim that, in European and Euro-Atlantic countries, birth cohorts, on average, do not differ significantly with regard to their work values. Our results suggest, however, that the relative importance of work is significantly higher in the middle-age groups than among the younger or older groups. Regarding work values, we found that the importance of having an interesting job, good pay, and good hours decreases with age, and that job security is equally important at every age, whereas the importance of having a useful job increases with age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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Open AccessArticle Young People Engaging in Volunteering: Questioning a Generational Trend in an Individualized Society
Societies 2018, 8(1), 8; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8010008
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 19 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
Today young people experience a world that is being significantly changed by large-scale transformations in education and labour markets. Youth, as a generation, is most affected by those changes, since they are more likely to reshape their ways of living in response to
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Today young people experience a world that is being significantly changed by large-scale transformations in education and labour markets. Youth, as a generation, is most affected by those changes, since they are more likely to reshape their ways of living in response to the conditions they face, which inevitably produce inequalities in their lives. Volunteering is one of their responses. This paper aims to discuss the generational motivations and attitudes of a group of 11 European young people to participate in a European Voluntary Service project during a period of one year. The data was collected through an ethnographic methodological approach conducted between 2013 and 2014 in a Youth Centre in northern Portugal. Results clearly indicate that young people have an instrumental relationship with volunteering, which is mainly focused on the individual benefits that they believe they will acquire in their personal and professional life. Volunteering emerges as an opportunity to escape and to overcome the persisting challenges and constraints posed by our society; namely unemployment and precariousness, both of which are on the rise amongst young generations around the world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessArticle Political Consumerism as a Neoliberal Response to Youth Political Disengagement
Societies 2017, 7(4), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc7040034
Received: 27 September 2017 / Revised: 29 November 2017 / Accepted: 8 December 2017 / Published: 11 December 2017
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Abstract
Recent trends indicate diminishing public engagement with formal electoral politics in many advanced liberal democracies, especially among the younger generations. However, evidence also suggests that there has been a simultaneous interest by many young citizens in political consumerism. In large part, this interest
[...] Read more.
Recent trends indicate diminishing public engagement with formal electoral politics in many advanced liberal democracies, especially among the younger generations. However, evidence also suggests that there has been a simultaneous interest by many young citizens in political consumerism. In large part, this interest is shaped as a response to the individualisation and strict ‘economism’ driven by the underlying forces of neoliberalism. Disenfranchised and disillusioned by the seeming incapacity of the purely political sphere to respond to their individualised claims, and having internalised the neoliberal critique of democracy, these young empowered citizen-consumers often search for the ‘political’ within the bounds of the marketplace and are increasingly attracted to consumerist methods of political participation, such as boycotting and buycotting. Given the susceptibility of political consumerism to a neoliberal modus operandi, the lack of available literature problematising its emergence as a response to neoliberal principles is somewhat surprising. The present article will address this gap by connecting the declining levels of electoral participation among younger generations in post-crisis Europe to the rise of political consumerism within the neoliberal ideological hegemony of the ‘marketopoly’. We distinguish between two antithetical, but complimentary effects. Firstly, the internalised neoliberal critique of democracy emphasises the ‘push’ out of the public into the commercial sphere. Secondly, the emerging individualisation of modern ‘liquid’ politics advanced by the postmaterialist sensitivities of young people’s previously affluent socialisation call attention to the existence of a parallel ‘pull’ effect into the ‘marketopoly’, as a habitus of youth political participation. In both cases, the reorganisation of political participation as consumption, and the re-styling of young citizens as ‘empowered’ consumers, delineates political consumerism as an efficacious response to their political disengagement in an increasingly marketised world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Neoliberalism and the Unfolding Patterns of Young People’s Political Engagement and Political Participation in Contemporary Britain
Societies 2017, 7(4), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc7040033
Received: 28 September 2017 / Revised: 10 November 2017 / Accepted: 15 November 2017 / Published: 20 November 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (274 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Recent trends suggest that young people in Britain are increasingly rejecting electoral politics. However, evidence suggests that British youth are not apolitical, but are becoming ever more sceptical of the ability of electoral politics to make a meaningful contribution to their lives. Why
[...] Read more.
Recent trends suggest that young people in Britain are increasingly rejecting electoral politics. However, evidence suggests that British youth are not apolitical, but are becoming ever more sceptical of the ability of electoral politics to make a meaningful contribution to their lives. Why young people are adopting new political behaviour and values, however, is still a point of contention. Some authors have suggested that neoliberalism has influenced these new patterns of political engagement. This article will advance this critique of neoliberalism, giving attention to three different facets of neoliberalism and demonstrate how they combine to reduce young people’s expectations of political participation and their perceptions of the legitimacy of political actors. We combine ideational and material critiques to demonstrate how young people’s political engagement has been restricted by neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has influenced youth political participation through its critiques of collective democracy, by the subsequent transformations in political practice that it has contributed to, and through the economic marginalisation that has resulted from its shaping of governments’ monetary policy. This approach will be conceptually predicated on a definition of neoliberalism which acknowledges both its focus on reducing interventions in the economy, and also its productive capacity to modify society to construct market relations and galvanise competition amongst agents. From this definition, we develop the argument that neoliberal critiques of democracy, the subsequent changes in political practices which respond to these criticisms and the transformation in socioeconomic conditions caused by neoliberalism have coalesced to negatively influence young people’s electoral participation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Still Troubled: Tunisia’s Youth During and Since the Revolution of 2011
Societies 2017, 7(4), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc7040029
Received: 7 September 2017 / Revised: 10 October 2017 / Accepted: 25 October 2017 / Published: 30 October 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (215 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
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
[...] Read more.
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: In transition … Where to? Rethinking life stages and intergenerational relations

Abstract: In this paper we would like to reflect on the intertwining of the redefinition of the stages of life, the ‘new’ patterns of adulthood transitions and the intergenerational relations. Thus, the first question that drives our reflections is: how does the radical transformation that invested the transition to adulthood change the ways we define adulthood itself and how does it interfere with the processes of mutual recognition amongst different generations? Indeed, intergenerational relationships acquire even more complexity, in a framework in which a) structural factors like the precarisation of the labour market and the aging population heighten reciprocal interdependence and b) changes in the life-courses patterns distance the different generations especially in terms of biographical sense-making and “biographicity” (Alheit and Dausien 2000; Stauber 2007; Walther 2016). Which effects on the generational order (Mayall 2002; Alanen 2009) are produced by these complexities? And how intergenerational relations contribute to inequalities reproduction?

Seeking to address these questions, we would like to reflect on the possible ways to reconceptualise adulthood and the intergenerational ties that should guarantee solidarity and wellbeing in everyday life.

These theoretical reflections are grounded on empirical work done in the Northern part of Italy, with thirtysomething people who are still struggling with a prolonged and de-standardised transition process (Cavalli and Galland 1996; White and Wyn 2008), thus negotiating new ‘adult roles’, with particular reference to parenthood. This complex transition is significant and widespread in our context that, as, part of the southern group of welfare states (Ferrera 1996), has low levels of welfare provision and high reliance on the family as a form of support.

Keywords: Transition to adulthood; Adulthood; Generations; Parenthood

 

Title: Young People’s Critical Politicization in Spain in the Great Recession: ¿a generational re-configuration?

Abstract: Young Spaniards have been one of the social groups most affected by the negative consequences of the Great Recession. Many authors call the young people who have grown up these years as the generation of the crisis. This crisis has constituted a decisive event in the socialization process of this young people, a shared experience of the deterioration of living conditions and the transformation of precariousness into everyday experience.

In a context of multiples difficulties to be young but also of a lot of social protest (movement 15-M and anti- austerity mobilizations), the generation of the crisis has been characterized by the construction of a new relationship scheme with politics, where a type of critical politicization, oriented towards social and political change, stands out.

The results of the Young People in Spain Survey 2016 and the European Social Survey provide us with the empirical basis to analyse the characteristics of young people’s politicization, of their political practices and how they try to influence the political scene. In summary, the article shows how young people display their civic status in the political sphere and the particularities of their politicization process which, in comparison with older generations, would reveal a deep generation gap.

 

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