I’ve had so much interest from folks at Uni, around town, internet people, even the media about the Open Café about young people’s politics on Monday. People have been asking: what do you think about this?
Mostly I think: “Oh God what have I got myself into”
I haven’t blogged in a while, so I wanted to share a draft of some ideas with you. And if you like it, you could always come along Monday and buy me a pint…
Poverty – a flashcard from my focus group methodology
The following is an adapted excerpt from a thematic literature review, following a pilot study, that I carried out last spring. I proposed the finding that young people’s experience during the contemporary transition to adulthood challenges researchers with a complex, dualistic relationship between narratives as young people make reflexive, self-narrative transitions to adulthood. The accepted narrative is something like Horatio Alger Jr.’s ‘bootstrap’ novelle about the heroic self-made man. I drew examples from Nayak and Kehily’s studies of young masculinity and femininity during the dual transition of individuals from childhood to independence, and, as a period effect, the transition of British society from an industrial one to a neo-liberalist economy (Nayak and Kehily, 2008) in which making one’s own way in the world represents both a newfound freedom and new post-industrial shackle.
As a visitor to Facebook and not a resident – I don’t maintain an account there myself – it’s been interesting to see how people interact with you when you say you’re not on the site. Usually they say “good on you” or “I will leave it myself, some day…”
What’s striking to me is that people say similar things about living in the countryside rather than the city. Leaving Facebook is a plan for the future, an idealistic thing, maybe something to do for your kids.
This got me thinking about conceptualizing Facebook as a city, and how it relates to that old dead metropolis Geocities. Urban planning isn’t something related to my research but the principles around identity and belonging are not far off, at least; and I found it an interesting thought experiment. We live online, with our friends and colleagues. What kind of a place is the internet – as an accumulation of people working and living together – turning into, should it follow Facebook’s model?
Now this: this is a city.
One thing I really like about student life is the conferences, and the way ideas cross-pollinate when a conference is set up right. That is, when there are spaces at a conference to ignore the conference and just shoot the breeze with some other student you’ve never met, from wherever, doing whatever. It’s best not when you find someone doing a whatever that’s similar to yours, but one that’s totally different but using the same framework, or language, or technology for understanding. What can we do to promote this kind of productive collision between ideas?
My secret plan, which I’ve been cooking up for some time, is to set up a collaborative blog, primarily for postgraduate research students, but inviting others along for the ride too, so that people can share their ideas whether thought through or not, and get that oh-so-important “web presence”. Even if it’s just to copy out a couple of sections from a paper they’ve already published, even only to point to a seminar group to check out the blog. Sounds good so far, right? And everyone says: yes! A lovely idea. Yes! I’ll write for you and that sounds just terrific and yes, yes, yes…
If I organize it, will you come along? (Actual turnout not shown)
One reason I would like to keep this blog going is to experiment with ideas that turn up in my uni work but that would be more fun without all the citations and wide interrogation that come with doing academic papers.
The big idea in my head right now is youthful antipolitics (from Rys Farthing, 2010) which you could say is a criticism of depicting young people’s political engagement vs. disengagement as a binary. Is young politics so simple, that some kids vote and are good citizens, and some are basically Beavis and Butthead, and don’t give a damn? Or, is there something in sitting at the computer, for example, that doesn’t fit the paradigm of engaged politics but is still useful to young people and the societies they live in?
“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words” – Hesiod of Greece, 8th Century