Youth and Climate Change / Youth in the Global South (2 Themes)

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:15-15:45
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
RC34 Sociology of Youth (host committee)

Language: English

Youth and Climate Change (Session Part 1)

Climate scientists predict that intensifying planetary warming will cause more frequent severe weather events, droughts and water shortages. These will likely cause massive population migrations and wars over declining resources.
Youth are often the most able and willing to migrate, and they become the soldiers in war, voluntarily or not. Such changes may disrupt the passage to adulthood, especially in the Global South, as migrant youth experience difficulties in assimilating into new societies. Many youth may find it difficult to see ahead, to envision stable life courses for themselves and future generations. Failure of governments to act may foster a decline in confidence in, and disconnection from, societal institutions. 
I am proposing this session to draw attention to the challenges and potentially catastrophic consequences posed by climate change for present and future youth generations and to encourage research on this topic. Illustrative questions to be considered: 

  • How have recent severe weather events impacted youth?
  • Are youth becoming aware of the threat of climate change?
  • How is it affecting their outlooks to the future?
  • Are value shifts occurring among young people as it becomes increasingly evident that the planet’s capacity to support life is eroding – e.g., values surrounding economic growth, population size, energy conservation, life styles and living arrangements?
  • Are youth becoming attracted to social movements advocating governmental and individual ameliorative action, or are they increasingly acknowledging dystopian futures, assuming a fatalistic stance, and turning inward?
  • To what extent are social movements to address climate change being spearheaded by youth?


Youth in the Global South (Session Part 2)

Scholarship from the Global North has long dominated the study of youth. In considering the possible futures youth demand and require, might it not be time to step back from global comparisons across the North-South divide and instead ask what alternative or complementary theories, policies, histories and methodologies Global South scholars can offer to the sociological study of youth?  This themed session seeks to question how and whether the theories, methodologies, histories and policies of youth scholarship in the Global North are relevant, applicable and necessary to those in the Global South. It invites papers that ask how or whether approaches to youth scholarship differ between the Global North and the Global South, and is particularly interested in papers that:

  • reflect on the methodologies in youth scholarship that have emerged from the South and to what effect; 
  • analyse existing and introduce new sociological theories that address youth futures in the South; 
  • address post-colonial histories of youth alongside contemporary actions in the South;
  • and interrogate youth policies that uniquely address contexts and conditions of Southern youth. 

The session is focused on elevating, showcasing and encouraging contemporary youth scholarship in the Global South – that includes the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). It is open to convergences, divergences, possibilities, speculations, and beginning new debates or fuelling older ones. For example, the possibilities of agency and resistance in adversity; the usefulness of sub-cultures theory in conflict contexts, and social and cultural reproduction in fragile landscapes. Short, innovative, provocative papers marked clearly as theory, methodology, histories or policy are invited and should aim to push forward the boundaries of Southern scholarship. There will be brief, invited responses to each paper to stimulate debate and discussion.

Session Organizers:
Jeylan MORTIMER, University of Minnesota, USA and Sharlene SWARTZ, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Natalia WAECHTER, University of Graz, Austria
Growing-up in the Global South: Theorizing Education-Employment Nexus, Youth Scholarship, and Methodologies in the Philippines
Clarence BATAN, University of Santo Tomas, Philippines; Debbie Mariz MANALILI, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines; Keith Aaron JOVEN, Mabalacat City College/University of the Philippines, Philippines
Negotiating Transition into Adulthood in Kyrgyzstan
Jessica SCHWITTEK, University of Wuppertal, Germany
Too Small to Make a Difference? Participation, Engagement and Agency
Ani WIERENGA, University of Melbourne, Australia
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