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Identities and Inequalities in an Unravelling Europe

In an age when the next generation have worse prospects than those of their parents, this book appraises the challenges young people face resulting from the instability of their lives.

Based on youth experience of education, employment and political participation in England and Germany, the book examines the impact of digitalisation in the context of rising inequality, accelerating technological transformation, fragile European institutions, growing nationalism and mental and economic stress arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The insights gained point to young peoples’ agency as central to acquiring the skills and resources needed to shape their future in the digital society.

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Bynner John and Heinz Walter R. Youth Prospects in the Digital Society: Identities and Inequalities in an Unravelling Europe Bristol : Policy Press 2021 ISBN 978-1-4473-5148-1 Is it an irony that the authors of this book on youth are both professors emeriti, and so at some age distance from their subject? Or is it rather a warming indicator of an older generation’s concern for future ones (the book is dedicated to their grandchildren)? In any case their long standing expertise on the topic results in an informative and valuable volume – and one

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International Perspectives on Childhood and Youth in Hard Times

Bringing together new, multidisciplinary research, this book explores how children and young people across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas experience and cope with situations of poverty and precarity.

It looks at the impact of neoliberalism, austerity and global economic crisis, evidencing the multiple harms and inequalities caused. It also examines the different ways that children, young people and families ‘get by’ under these challenging circumstances, showing how they care for one another and envisage more hopeful socio-political futures.

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The Multifaceted Consequences of Labour Market Insecurity

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

Policymakers throughout Europe are enacting policies to support youth labour market integration. However, many young people continue to face unemployment, job insecurity, and the subsequent consequences.

Adopting a mixed-method and multilevel perspective, this book provides a comprehensive investigation into the multifaceted consequences of social exclusion. Drawing on rich pan-European comparative and quantitative data, and interviews with young people from across Europe, this text gives a platform to the unheard voices of young people.

Contributors derive crucial new policy recommendations and offer fresh insights into areas including youth well-being, health, poverty, leaving the parental home, and qualifying for social security.

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Meeting Future Challenges with Past Lessons

With the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) behind us, this book asks did they work? And what happens next? Arguing that to effectively look forward, we must first look back, the editors of this insightful book gather leading scholars and practitioners from a range of backgrounds and regions to provide an in-depth exploration of the MDG project and its impact.

Contributors use region-specific case studies to explore the effectiveness of the MDGs in addressing the root causes of poverty, including resource geographies, early childhood development and education, women’s rights and disability rights as well as the impact of the global financial crisis and Arab Spring on MDG attainment.

Providing a critical assessment that seeks to inform future policy decisions, the book will be valuable to those working in the development community as well as to academics and students of international development, international relations and development economics.

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This chapter explores how the achievement of aspirations for young, urban Colombians (aged 15–22) in Cartagena is constrained by the inequalities reinforced through the intersection of different types of discrimination. In the example of the two annual beauty pageants, the elections of Miss Colombia and the popular queen, that take place during the Independence Day celebrations in Cartagena in November, this chapter shows how the intersection of social class, race, gender and place creates spaces of exclusion and restricts access to opportunities within Cartagena for young people. While raising aspirations are claimed as one of the main drivers of social mobility for young people in marginalised places (Brown, 2011; Hart, 2016), this chapter argues that unequal power relations and patterns of exclusion limit young Cartagenians’ opportunities to pursue their aspirations. This is especially visible throughout the Independence Day celebrations in Cartagena where the events of the two beauty pageants reproduce patterns of discrimination and exclusion reminiscent of Cartagena’s long history of slavery and colonialism. In particular, young people of the Afro-Colombian community living in high crime, lower social class neighbourhoods suffer from stigmatisation, discrimination and criminalisation. This chapter is based on data collected over nine months of ethnographic fieldwork, including interviews and participatory methods such as photography and filming, mapping activities and guided tours. By listening to the young Cartagenians’ perceptions and experiences, and by analysing the interplay between aspirations and their relation to the inequalities reproduced through the intersection of race, social class, gender and place, the chapter provides a more complete picture of the boundaries to achieving their desired future selves faced by these young people.

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Youth service provision, which is the responsibility of the local state, has seen significant reduction in available central funding since the UK financial crisis of 2007. Cuts to government spending in the UK have significantly affected young people. Figures released by the House of Commons show that 493,000 young people aged 16–24 were unemployed in March to May 2019 (Francis-Devine, 2019). This unemployment rate sits alongside cuts to state support for young people. For instance, under the 2010 to 2015 coalition government, Education Maintenance Allowance for 16–18-year-old pupils in education or training was cut. Correspondingly, there has been a significant increase in university fees in the UK. This combination has resulted in heightened uncertainty for young people who may feel both unsupported and ‘priced out’ of certain aspirations for their future.

Through the case study of a community youth-led radio station, KCC Live, this chapter explores the role of voluntary organisations in the aspirations of young people and the impact of budget cuts for the transitions of volunteers. KCC Live is a youth-led community radio station in Knowsley, neighbouring Liverpool, UK, to explore the imagined futures of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) who volunteer at the station. This chapter proceeds as follows. First, I present a brief overview of literature on youth transitions and introduce the concept of young people’s ‘possible selves’. I then outline the methods used in this study, also introducing KCC Live and the Metropolitan Borough of Knowsley (referred to as Knowsley hereafter) where the radio station is based.

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In 2013, Jon Henley, correspondent for the Guardian newspaper, wrote about the unemployment crisis confronting young Europeans, and described ‘a legion of young, often highly qualified people, entering a so-called job market that offers very few any hope of a job – let alone the kind they have been educated for’ (Henley, 2019). This scene is not limited to Europe. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Education, 65.8% of people in their 20s and early 30s had degrees in 2014, but university graduates accounted for around one-third (34.1%) of all casual employment in the country – an increase of 41.7% over six years.1 A series of financial reforms that favoured business conglomerates and the wealthy (Lin et al, 2011; Huang, 2014), together with the market-oriented expansion of higher-education institutions (Chan and Lin, 2015), have rendered a huge number of ‘qualified youth’ jobless over the last two decades. The growing concerns regarding the so-called ‘crumbling generation’ reflect the danger of Taiwan facing economic and demographic catastrophe2 in the near future (Lin et al, 2011; Ku, 2017; Huang, 2014). Despite the dire warnings, those aged 18–22 who are currently studying at university and face a gloomy future have been largely overlooked so far.

This chapter focuses on Taiwan’s college students who are vulnerable to diploma inflation and job uncertainty before graduating. A hike in tuition fees3 is the basis of their financial predicament, since it often necessitates the taking on of student loans,4 which in turn has a stifling effect on their future (Huang, 2010).

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The role of aspiration for youth in the Zambian context is an area that until recently has been greatly overlooked. Like many sub-Saharan African countries, a concern about young people’s everyday lives and the challenges they face in the present (Evans, 2012; 2011; 2010; Evans and Becker, 2009; Ansell and Van Blerk, 2004; Becker et al, 2001), has meant little focus has been given to young people’s views about their futures. Youth-centred policies were only introduced in Zambia in 1994. Focusing on the position of young people in society, such policies and associated movements attempt to outline the roles and responsibilities expected of these young people as they grow up into adulthood. They seek to ensure the development of a youth who is responsible, assertive and disciplined, seeing them as a resource for the future development of the country – one whose potential should be ‘tapped’ to ensure the Zambian economy continues to grow (MYSCD, 2015; 2006; 1994).

What is strikingly absent however, is any recognition of young people’s individual aspirations, the ability of young people to decide their own future, and the need to provide adequate resources and funding to enable them to achieve this. Young people are expected to ‘grow up to full adulthood in consonance with contemporary social, economic and political ideals and aspirations of the nation’ (MSYCD, 1994: 1). This fails to recognise young people’s own aspirations, outside of the wider goals of the country itself, which relate not only to growing up and getting by, but to being ‘someone’ one day too.

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This book set out to illuminate the personal, everyday effects of hard times for children, young people and families in diverse global contexts. In this concluding chapter, we begin by outlining the contribution of the three Parts of the book and their constituent chapters to our understanding of the hard times which interlace with the lives of children, youth and families. Our focus on ‘hard times’ aims to shed light on all manner of structural inequalities, longstanding exclusions and power imbalances which are being constituted or intensified by neoliberalisations, austerities and economic crises. Elucidating the implications of these complexly relational, hurtful and deeply affecting moments leads us to reflect on the opportunities and prospects for socially-differentiated children and young people getting by and growing up in hard times. In bringing together neoliberalisations, austerities and economic crises, we recognise how these processes are lumped together, materially and spatially (Katz, 2004; 2018) and in people’s everyday experiences. Drawing the collection to a close, we consider further directions for research which is sensitive to the interrelations between broadscale political-economic shifts and locally-scaled, personally inflected inequalities.

Divided into three key Parts, the collection began with an exploration of the transformative impacts of hard times for children, youth and families at the sharp end of neoliberalisms, austerities and economic crises. Drawing on work from diverse international contexts, Part 1 explored the transformations which play out unevenly at personal, familial and local scales as a result of political-economic processes.

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