Exploring the New Generation: The Role of the Past and the Future in the Formation of Identity

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:30 PM
Room: F206
Oral Presentation
Izaskun ARTEGUI ALCAIDE , University of the Basque Country, Spain
Recently, the field of identity configuration has diversified. On the one hand, social norms guiding processes of identity construction are being de-standardized. On the other hand, individualization means that subjects are being made responsible for their own decisions. From this perspective, a number of scholars are exploring the idea that identity is nowadays the result of a process of reflexivity.

The aim of this paper is to show that the degree of reflexivity depends, more specifically, on the relationship which subjects have with their past and future. To test this hypothesis, we use data produced by twenty-four in-depth interviews where we study the discourses of young people who are in the last phase of the transition from youth to adulthood.

Although it is true that the transition from youth to adulthood is a decisive stage in the formation and establishment of identity, one factor makes the stories of young people who are in this vital phase especially relevant at the present time: this generation, which has been socialized in the ways of identity construction characteristic of the first modernity, is now facing identity configuration modes of the second modernity (standardized identity vs diversity of identities). The struggles and contradictions generated between the stories that they were told in the past, on the one hand, and their living experiences, on the other, allow us access to where the identities of the new generations are coming up for debate and, in turn, to observe young people's degree of reflexivity in shaping their identity.