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

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 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 (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
In Transition … Where to? Rethinking Life Stages and Intergenerational Relations of Italian Youth
Societies 2019, 9(1), 7; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc9010007
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 16 January 2019 / Accepted: 16 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
This article wants to contribute to the ongoing debate within youth studies about the frameworks and concepts that inform research on the meanings of and transitions into adulthood. It aims to contribute to debates about the changing nature of life stages and the [...] Read more.
This article wants to contribute to the ongoing debate within youth studies about the frameworks and concepts that inform research on the meanings of and transitions into adulthood. It aims to contribute to debates about the changing nature of life stages and the need for new conceptual categories and definitions of adulthood and of intergenerational relations. Thus, the first question that drives our reflections is: How do the radical transformations implied in the transition to adulthood pathway change the metaphors used to describe it, the ways of defining adulthood itself, and the scope for mutual recognition amongst different generations? Indeed, intergenerational relationships acquire 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-course patterns distance the different generations, especially in terms of biographical sense-making. These theoretical reflections arise from empirical work done in Northern Italy, with thirty-something people who are struggling with a prolonged and de-standardised transition process, negotiating “new adult roles”, particularly in the field of parenthood). This complex transition is significant and widespread in Italian context that, as part of the group of Southern welfare states, has low levels of welfare provision and high reliance on the family as a form of support. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessArticle
A Generational Approach to Somatic Cultures: Modes of Attention to the Young Body in Contemporary Portuguese Society
Societies 2018, 8(4), 102; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040102
Received: 7 June 2018 / Revised: 24 July 2018 / Accepted: 6 August 2018 / Published: 17 October 2018
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Abstract
The aims of this article are to identify, describe, and sociologically understand the different somatic cultures in contemporary Portuguese society—i.e., the distinct ways in which different generations have thought about, used and lived the body from the time of the Estado Novo (the [...] Read more.
The aims of this article are to identify, describe, and sociologically understand the different somatic cultures in contemporary Portuguese society—i.e., the distinct ways in which different generations have thought about, used and lived the body from the time of the Estado Novo (the New State, which was the regime that governed Portugal from 1933 to 1974) until the present day. Beginning with the hypothesis that there are different, historically institutionalized, somatic modes of attention to the “young body”, the author uses the most relevant institutions of the socialization of the body as analytical dimensions and investigates their main incorporation strategies and models of corporality. This hypothesis is informed by different generational conditions that change people’s uses of their body, their experiences of living in it, and their thoughts on the matter. Using these analytical dimensions, the article presents a typology that identifies, describes, and comprehends the three somatic cultures in the recent history of Portuguese society: the culture of physical invigoration that forms part of the legacy of the New State; the culture of physical rejuvenation inherited from youth cultures of the 1960s and 70s, along with the growth of body design industries in the 1980s; and the culture of physical perfection inherited from the biotech culture in the 1990s, accompanied by the radicalization of the body design industry. This approach entails the discussion and reinterpretation of a corpus of historical literature, presenting research data on the body in a defined time period (1930 to date) and space (Portugal), analyzed from an embodied perspective of generational change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
Open AccessArticle
Young People’s Critical Politicization in Spain in the Great Recession: A Generational Reconfiguration?
Societies 2018, 8(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030089
Received: 15 June 2018 / Revised: 3 September 2018 / Accepted: 14 September 2018 / Published: 18 September 2018
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Abstract
During the last decade, Spain has experienced, like other surrounding countries, a deep economic crisis accompanied by an unprecedented political and institutional crisis. This has led to a growing mistrust in institutions and a dissatisfaction with democracy, but also an increase in interest [...] Read more.
During the last decade, Spain has experienced, like other surrounding countries, a deep economic crisis accompanied by an unprecedented political and institutional crisis. This has led to a growing mistrust in institutions and a dissatisfaction with democracy, but also an increase in interest in politics, which implies an interesting change regarding other situations. Young people of the so-called ‘crisis generation’, who have socialized in a new and changing context, also participate in this process of change, and have moreover played a leading role in the public space. In order to analyze young people’s politicization process, in this article we use data from the European Social Survey (rounds 1–7, from 2000 to 2014) and the Young People in Spain Survey (2016). We developed a typology of attitudes towards politics and identified, using discrete choice models, the demographic and socioeconomic profile of young people particularly dissatisfied with politics. Our results show that, although young people socialized in the context of the crisis are very critical of politics, instead of moving further away from democratic politics or rejecting it openly, in most cases they politicize their discontent. Even those most critical of the way in which democracy works in the country have a very participatory political behavior, both in forms of nonelectoral and electoral participation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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Open AccessArticle
Media and Generations in Portugal
Societies 2018, 8(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030061
Received: 1 June 2018 / Revised: 26 July 2018 / Accepted: 28 July 2018 / Published: 2 August 2018
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Abstract
Many discourses link media with generations, ascribing particular appetence for the use of new media to youth, in contrast with older generations. This article aims to give an account of the empirical regularities but also differences found in a longitudinal quantitative analysis of [...] Read more.
Many discourses link media with generations, ascribing particular appetence for the use of new media to youth, in contrast with older generations. This article aims to give an account of the empirical regularities but also differences found in a longitudinal quantitative analysis of Internet users, uses, and media preferences among different Portuguese age cohorts. Making use of questionnaire surveys with representative samples, the importance of generational belongings in structuring different types of relationships with media is demonstrated, as youngsters seem to prefer new media. However, this variable does not hold in itself complete explanatory power. The importance of formal education, besides other sociographic variables, is clear, indicating the existence of social disparities within age cohorts, with repercussions on the mediated access to resources and opportunities. The diversity and inequalities found through the statistical analysis help to combat the rhetoric of a supposedly innate, all-encompassing digital nativity. By adopting a social constructivist approach, with a more holistic scope, this article also aims to reconstruct part of the complexity and multidimensionality of the relationship between and within Portuguese generations with media, thereby deconstructing more essentialist and homogenising notions of youth and generations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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Open AccessArticle
The Generational Dimension in Transitions: A Theoretical Review
Societies 2018, 8(3), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030049
Received: 1 June 2018 / Revised: 29 June 2018 / Accepted: 4 July 2018 / Published: 6 July 2018
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Abstract
The aim of this article is to question the notions of ‘generation’ and ‘transitions’ from a theoretical perspective by making a brief historical incursion into the sociology of generations. This review will explore the latest ideas on youth transitions to establish theoretical bridges [...] Read more.
The aim of this article is to question the notions of ‘generation’ and ‘transitions’ from a theoretical perspective by making a brief historical incursion into the sociology of generations. This review will explore the latest ideas on youth transitions to establish theoretical bridges between the different authors, and between the classic and modern approaches. It also takes a deeper look at an emerging theoretical model that seeks to connect these two important issues, transitions and the notion of generation. The debate focuses on how youth transitions are conceptualised from a micro perspective as individual and individualised processes, underlining the idea that they are based on specific macro concepts of ‘youth’ in generational terms. The concept of social generation allows the micro aspects of transitions to be associated with the historical situation in which they occur. This theoretical approach proposes that young people’s transitional behaviours are subject to the mechanisms of intergenerational change, but also notes that transitions can be differentiated according to the position they occupy in the social structure. In summary, this article supports the idea that youth transitions are different in their manifestations, although they may have a similar generational basis. The aim is therefore to introduce a broader theoretical view that includes the predecessors and successors of the classics, and serves as a point of departure for an approach designed to understand the formats of the new ‘youth status’, and hence, offer a more accurate scientific explanation for examining the overworked notions of generation and transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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 [...] Read more.
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 [...] Read more.
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 3 | 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
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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)
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