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Justin Turner

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Being Young in the Age of Globalization: A Look at Recent Literature on Neoliberalism’s Effects on Youth

This article presents new literature concerning recent trends involving the lived experiences of youth within a society seemingly focused on the axiomatic logics of neoliberalism. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement, youth have been involved in breaking apart from the ethos of repression and domination. However, although these movements have given hope, multiple authors point out the growing precarious situation created for youth in today’s culture of consumerism and individualism. Realized in the commodification of education, the war on crime, market-based competition, and the decline of state support, many young people have seen their identities dissolved, defined instead by the semantics of criminality and disposability–managing and fashioning submissive actors to the logics of neoliberalism. These logics collapse communities, destroy civic agency, and isolate the individual. For youth, neoliberal ideals create a particular vulnerability. Instead of representing our future, they are re-imagined as threats, treated as criminals, their behavior unpredictable in a time where unpredictability is deemed risky. As such, treatment of youth becomes more controlling, more violent. This article also provides descriptions of a number of community-based organizations that, within this neoliberal environment, reform and improve the lives of youth at a time where “youth” has become a demonized and often forgotten group.

neoliberalism, criminalization of youth

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 41, No. 4 (2014): 8-22

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