Looking at Young People through the Temporal Lens

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 11:20
Oral Presentation
Carmen LECCARDI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Andy Furlong’s work was mainly dedicated to the analysis of the connections between processes of social change and the transformation of the ways and the meanings of the transition to adulthood. Among other things, he shed light on the close connection between the sociology of youth and general sociology. This contribution intends to reflect on this aspect through an analysis of the relationship between young people and temporality. In particular, through time it is possible to think about a series of strategic questions for understanding youth experience today. I am referring, for example, to the representation of the social world, trust in institutions, and the processes of identity construction – all of which are aspects that youth cultures incorporate and re-elaborate. In other terms, by examining young people’s temporal visions, we can explore youth subjectivities and the forms of agency that they deploy to regain control over their lives.

All of this happens, in particular in southern Europe, in a period marked by the recent dramatic recession that has not only accentuated young people's vulnerability in terms of the labour market, the risk of social exclusion and poverty. It has also had a direct influence on their self-representation and their capacity for agency, both of which are also connected with their relationship with time.

On a more general level, a specific contradiction in contemporary young people’s lives has to be underlined: the increasing gap between the well-known issue of delayed and non-linear transition to adulthood and the acceleration of social life through the affirmation of a culture of immediacy, widespread in institutions and society. In this scenario, young people try to build forms of active and creative relations with the present to deal effectively and profitably with the evanescence of the future (and the past).