Youth and reflexive life management

Authored by: Rachel Thomson

Routledge Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138804357
eBook ISBN: 9781315753058
Adobe ISBN: 9781317619895


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In his historical account of the emergence of the teenager Jon Savage maps the emergence of ‘youth’ as a specific stage in the life-course, associated with the emergence of modernity, consumerism and global capitalism spanning (Savage 2007). What began in the 1890s as a European and upper class avant-garde movement was by the 1950s a mass global culture with its own manifestos, music and theories. Central to the idea of the ‘teenager’ was the notion of autonomy – from parents but also from the past and the demand that they replicate previous models of masculinity, femininity, work and leisure. ‘Youth’ then gains a paradoxical status as both an abstract period of transition between dependent childhood and independent adulthood that all are subject to and which is consolidated in legal definitions of ages of consent, majority, rights and responsibility – as well as a more contingent and messy negotiations of situated generational change involving families, localities, popular culture, biography and history.

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