Youth, identity, class and gender

Authored by: Linda McDowell

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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The economic crisis of 2007/8 had a severe impact on many young people. Patterns of inequality that had already emerged in a polarised service sector, as well as greater economic uncertainty, deepened social and economic divisions in the UK and elsewhere. Categorical distinctions of class, gender and age took on new salience as the crisis and the years of austerity strengthened differences between the young and the elderly, men and women, the middle and working class. Markers of youth identity and differentiation, created in the main through consumption, became increasingly hard to maintain as incomes fell and youth unemployment rates remained stubbornly high, even as the UK economy began to emerge from recession. For young people without work, a punitive benefit system left them poorer (in relative terms) than in previous decades.

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