New Forms of Collectivity Among Youth in the Basque Country (Spain): The Phenomenon of “Youth Premises”

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Diego CARBAJO PADILLA, Universidad del País Vasco, Spain
In the last decades, groups of youths in the Basque Country (Spain) have been renting former commercial premises as spaces for leisure and sociality. According to recent data, at least the 20% of young people of the Basque Country is member of this kind of collectivities. The negative image of this phenomenon produced by the media relating them to risk practices and accidents, drug consumption and coexistence problems with the neighbours has increased the political concern about it. In this sense, most of the city councils of the Basque Country are developing different regulations to standardise this rising phenomenon.

Grounded on two quantitative broad research produced by the Basque Youth Observatory and a qualitative research I coordinated for the city council of Vitoria-Gasteiz, the objective of the paper is to go beyond its definition as a social problem and to offer a socio-anthropological view of the phenomenon. Thus, it will be posed that the institutionalization of these forms of collectivity is closely related to processes such as: a) urban transformations; b) the extension of youth; c) the precarisation of labour and housing markets; d) the implementation of some regulations over the uses of public spaces in the last decade and; f) some cultural features of the Basque Country.

In that frame, the phenomenon takes the form of a collective and creative response that enables young people more affordable leisure and consumption far from the adult-world surveillance. Furthermore, the premises emerge as autonomous social spaces where different learnings such as sharing and managing common goods, or making collective decisions take place. Lastly, the paper seeks to contribute to the session with some developments to the on-going debate in Youth Studies around structure and agency, contemporary forms of govern, the reproduction of youth cultures, and the complex relations between individuals and collectivities.