Youth Leisure As Job Training and the Pursuit of Distinctiveness

Friday, July 18, 2014: 5:30 PM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Clare HOLDSWORTH , Centre for Social Policy Research, Keele University, UK, Keele, United Kingdom
In 2009 a group of students at the University of California, Santa Cruz who self-styled themselves as the ‘Research and Destroy Collective’ issued a Communiqué from an absent future denouncing how demands on young to perform and be active rather than liberating, were stifling their futures, and that ‘even leisure is a form of job training’. This paper responds to this rally cry to map out how young people are increasingly engaging in leisure pursuits in advanced economies in order to enhance their CVs.  I will consider how leisure activities, which may include travel, sport, hobbies, volunteering and membership of organisations, are increasingly seen as ways of standing out from the crowd and demarcating oneself as distinctive.  While these quest for uniqueness is not a particularly new quality of youth transitions, in the paper I argue that it is taking on news forms as the desire to acquire experience capital is increasingly tied up with securing young people’s futures.  In an era of high youth unemployment in advanced economics and increasingly global precariousness for youth employment, young people are increasingly expected to be responsible for their own futures through the acquisition of skills and training both within and outside of formal education.  The paper will also explore how the continual refinement and uptake of e-technologies, not just social media but also through the role out of eportfolios, enhances young people’s  capacity to articulate experiences and record what they have done. The paper draws on detailed empirical research with different cohorts of young people in English Higher Education over the last ten years.