Violent Metaphors and Beyond: On Impact and Futures within a Global Sociology of Youth

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Ani WIERENGA, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia
The concept of impact is now ubiquitous in the world of research. On the one hand, it is the frame for measuring effectiveness in the social, economic and ecological interventions funded by donors, governments and multilaterals; and on the other, impact has been deeply (and differently) written into the way that funding bodies, universities and sociologists think about research. There is a vexed and changing relationship between these frames.

Impact is a war metaphor. This is ironic, when one considers how effective social and cultural changes are made. Yet, impact is also about physics and the laws of nature, precision, touch-points, how far something travels, as well as catalytic energy. The latter interpretation may offer something more useful.

A global sociology of youth involves advocacy for some form of liveable futures. Arguably, never has an understanding of the social and cultural forces behind changes been more needed, and never has an understanding of complex causality been so vital. Yet at the same time, in the context of rising levels of white noise and fear, it may also be the most challenging time for the insights of public-facing sociology to be heard.

Recognising rapid ecological, economic and social changes, and also recognising the convergence of the challenges surrounding climate change, economic precarity and mass movement of people, we are now looking at futures that raise these stakes sharply for researchers. Engagement demands the interplay of insightful local inputs and strong global networks.

In relation to the concept of impact, this session offers and examination of the growth of, touch-points for, and trajectories for a global sociology of youth. Drawing on analysis of RC34 records, and current inputs from our members, it offers a future-focussed reflection on impact, global forces, imperatives and opportunities.