Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions

By Jennifer Gidley; Sohail Inayatullah | Go to book overview

Concluding Reflections
Sohail Inayatullah and Jennifer Gidley
To summarize and synthesize what has been stated elsewhere in the book, “youth” (as an “issue”) have begun to affect the agendas of world governments, big corporations, and NGOs because they have begun to be perceived over the last ten to fifteen years as having economic and political importance. This “importance” centers around key areas:
1. The economic importance (to the corporate world) stems from the concept of “youth as market share.” Big business and its marketing managers recognize that the two billion (approximately) youth worldwide are potentially a sizeable chunk of their profits and resultant share prices. As Elissa Moses argues in her book The 100 Billion Allowance: Accessing the Global Teen Market. They are true-blue consumerists, aspiring to own as much as possible, as quickly as possible (spending currently $U.S. 100 billion per year in cities—and her figures do not include the twenty to twenty-five age group that is part of youth). However, paradoxically, as discussed in Chapter 1, this “buying power” of youth can be, and is being, manipulated by youth themselves for altruistic purposes, (for example, the antisweatshop movement), creating an Achilles heel for big business.
2. The political importance that youth have recently claimed (“youth as victim”) centers in the West around rising mental health issues and youth suicide rates, dilemmas prompting a proliferation of funding “sweeteners” to demonstrate a “caring side of government,” in spite of failure to address the issues at their systemic and foundational roots. In the non-West, this “youth as victim” scenario centers more centered on broader health issues, such as nutrition, HIV-AIDS, teenage pregnancy rates, and, more recently, exponential rises in heroin addiction.

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