605.2 Transnational youth subcultures as pathways to cosmopolitan openness

Friday, August 3, 2012: 2:45 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Nicole GALLANT , Observatoire Jeunes et Société, Canada
Michele ALTOMONTE , Social Sciences, Università di Torino, Italy
Recent international values surveys point toward a gradual transnational harmonization of core values among youth. Indeed, Beck and Beck-Gernsheim argue that sociologists may very well be witnessing the rise of a cosmopolitan generation who are co-developing and able to share common symbols and consciousness. For Delanty, “cosmopolitan imagination occurs when new relations between self, other and world develop in moments of openness”.

However, global youth is not “a single, universal generation” (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim). National contexts still play important roles in shaping the daily lives of most people (Brett and Moran), and there is much variety within youth of the same nation. Cosmopolitan attitudes may also coexist alongside various other allegiances, including national ones (Skrbiš and Woodward). Thus, not all youth are becoming cosmopolitan and those who do may navigate a variety of paths. In this paper, we shall explore if and how adherence to youth subcultures may be such a path toward becoming cosmopolitan.

Although they stress specific in-group commonalities and out-group boundaries, subcultures might be an interesting path toward cosmopolitanism for several reasons. They often rest upon transnational communities. Within these, the contents of common identification and the shared subcultural imaginaries are not ethnocultural or nation-based. Thus, there exists national variations within subcultures: despite obvious similarities, a punk anarchist might be different in Japan than in America or France. This ethnocultural diversity within the range of a common ideological or subcultural community could bring these youth to embrace ethnocultural diversity.

This exploration of how subcultures shape transnational senses of belonging will draw from three qualitative empirical studies: one explores identity among young global activists from a strong nationalistic minority; another documents the articulation of local and global influences in the cultural consumption practices of youth; and the third explores how trust is built within the transnational couch-surfing community.