Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions


How do young people see the future? Are they optimistic or pessimistic? Do their views vary from culture to culture? Are young people actively engaged in creating their desired futures or are they passively receiving the future? What effect has globalization on youth culture? How is the future taught in schools? These and many other questions are dealt with in this volume of comparative empirical research from around the world on how youth see the future.

Generally, youth are considered immature, irresponsible toward the future, cliquish, impressionistic, and dangerous toward self and others. They are considered as a mass market--two billion strong--the passive recipients of globalization. Most recently in OECD nations, youth have become fodder for political speeches--they are the problem that reflects both the failure of the welfare state (dependence on the state), the failure of globalization (unemployment), and postmodernism (loss of meaning and the crisis of the spirit). In the Third World, youth are seen not only as the problem, but equally as the force that can topple a regime (as in Yugoslavia). However, youth can also be seen as carriers of a new worldview, a new ideology.

These and other views concerning youth are examined in this volume of comparative empirical research. Studies from around the world provide intriguing answers to questions about how youth see the future and their future roles. This book will be of particular interest to scholars, students, researchers, and policymakers involved with youth issues and future studies.


Jennifer Gidley and Sohail Inayatullah

Youth around the globe are struggling to make sense of a world that has lost its meaning for them (both in postmodern Western societies and mixed—traditional, modern, and postmodern—Asian and African societies).

Growing into a time of the most rapid change known to history—as evidenced by trends such as globalization, genomics, global governance, virtualization, and terrorism—the line between adapting and falling off is a very fine one. We hear so much about the rise in youth suicide and youth violence, yet many young people have positive—indeed transformational—ideas about the future that go unheard. Furthermore, too little attention is given in contemporary policy-making, education, and community development to the hopes, dreams, fears, and anticipations of young people. As a global society, we are failing to actively listen to what young people are saying about the future. Instead we stereotype and disenfranchise them. This lack of dialogue on crucial questions of building less violent, more equitable, and more environmentally sustainable futures indicates insufficient foresight and empathy as well as structural problems in the world economy (in terms of who gets what) and imperialism associated with cultural hegemony (in terms of who defines reality—what is truth, reality, and beauty).

Defining the area

Youth futures can be defined initially as how young people think about and envision the future (probable, possible, and preferred). Youth itself is defined demographically as those humans between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. in Chapter 1, Gidley includes critical analysis of how youth are defined, categorized, and conceptualized.

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