77.2 Constitution of youth in fast food culture: An inquiry into global-local dynamics in contemporary India

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 11:00 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Anjali BHATIA , Department of Sociology, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, Lady Shri Ram College for Women, University of Delhi, India, New Delhi, India
constitution of youth in FAST FOOD CULTURE: aN INQUIRY INTO Global-local dynamics in contemporary India

It is intriguing that subsequent to the arrival in India of global corporation McDonald’s, fast food bespeaks a culture hitherto referred to as ‘fast food culture’. This culture strikes a relationship of identity with young people, via media advertisements, promotional campaigns, restaurant practices and eating practices. These young people comprise boys and girls who are student-customers as well as part-time employees. Interestingly, while this characteristic of fast food culture makes it a target of vandalism at the hands of Hindu Right activists, young people have taken to it enthusiastically.

This innovation attributable to McDonald’s has been adopted by popular indigenous eateries as also by coffee chains leading to the creation of a youth-centric fast food cultural context which is global-local.

Predicated on a democratic work environment as also on relationships of friendship prognosticating romance, the distinctive way of life fashioned for youngsters is decidedly modern. This development signals the advent of a distinct life-course category —youth—identified with a distinctive way of life in spheres of work and pleasure.

I hold that it is imperative to investigate the role assigned to youth in the structure of modernity purveyed by McDonald’s. Against the backdrop of the demographic dominance of young people is demography in the service of a politics of a consumerist culture?

However, notable is the fraught relationship between this politics and prevailing gendered cultural norms about growing up, working and career choices which are governed by caste, class and familial aspirations.   

I hold that the contemporary India is in the throes of a global-local dynamics; and this provides an occasion to capture the constitution of youth at this juncture. It goes without saying that such a constitution offer analytical views into important theoretical questions.