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Youth – Actor of social change? Differences and convergences across Europe

digital Youth – Actor of social change? Differences and convergences across Europe
Articolo
rivista STUDI DI SOCIOLOGIA
fascicolo STUDI DI SOCIOLOGIA - 2012 - 1
titolo Youth – Actor of social change? Differences and convergences across Europe
autore
editore Vita e Pensiero
formato Articolo | Pdf
online da 01-2012
issn 0039291X (stampa) | 18277896 (digitale)
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A.Walther, Youth - actor of social change? Differences and convergences across Europe

Young people are often referred to as the future of society while they are also increasingly made responsible for investing too little in education, for not being ready to adapt their job aspirations, for postponing family building or for refusing participation as active citizens. This discourse neglects the biographical dilemmas young people are facing under conditions of destandardised youth transitions and uncertain futures. It relies upon research conducted in the framework of the European research network EGRIS (European Group for Integrated Social Research) which allow to reflect on how young people’s motivation for agency evolves across different social contexts. The article aims at differentiating the understanding of young people’s agency. First, a biographical approach is introduced. Qualitative research has identified four principles of young people’s coping strategies which reflect such biographical dilemmas and which characterise young people’s agency and decision-making processes: choice, keeping options open, reconciliation, and self-presentation. A second line of differentiation is offered through a comparative approach laying focus on the different cultural and institutional normalities of growing up. A comparative model of transition regimes has been developed which outlines different configurations of how societies regulate young people’s transitions.

Key-words: young people’s agency, biographical approach, coping strategies, social and cultural contexts, model of transition, comparative approach.

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