Detailed Program of the Conference

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The current Conference time is: 9th Aug 2022, 07:33:38pm CEST

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Overall view of the program
Parallel sessions - L.2 Rethinking Youth After Pandemics? Reintroducing Agency and Generations
Saturday, 05/June/2021:
9:00am - 11:15am

Session Chair: Giuliana Mandich
Session Chair: Carmen Leccardi
Location: Room 11

Session Panels:
L.6. Beyond Formal Education? Young People and Alternative Non-Formal And Informal Learning Times and Places

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Sandra Vatrella

University of Naples, Department of Social Sciences, Italy

Theoretical framework

In the era of economic and cultural globalization, the logics of the neo-liberal governmentality affect educational systems pressing them so that they produce individuals for global competition, that is individuals who can compete in a fiercely competitive world. Consistently, school respond to such pressures to improve human capital through the enhancement of skills and abilities, according with the need to invest in the so-called "character skills” (Maccarini 2019): the set of personal traits that allow people to create and shape a life path consistent with the needs of a labour market increasingly interested in the classical type of the flexible working individual (Sennet 1998).

Against this backdrop, the foucauldian reflections about the practices of self-governance sound particularly interesting. In fact, the processes of ethical self-governance emerge as possibility to challenge the neo-liberal trap of education. In an era, when young people seem to oscillate between the subjectivations produced by the neo-liberal governmentality and the constitution of themselves as subjectivations looking for alternatives, such practices constitute a possibility for action also for young entrepreneur.

Research questions:

In this scenario, new research questions emerge. Among others, this contribute aims to understand:

1) Whether and how young entrepreneur resolve this tension and what processes of ethical self-government they manage to shape;

2) Through what techniques do young people manage to build alternative paths to the neo-liberal model. What are the “technologies of the self, which permit individuals to effect by their own means or with the help of others a certain number of operations on their own bodies and souls, thoughts, conduct, and way of being, so as to transform themselves” (Foucault 1988, 3) in order to achieve the desired state in the prefiguration of their future.

Research strategy and data collection

The listed aims were pursued through a research strategy combining narrative and hermeneutic approaches.

To collect data, we resorted to the technique of discursive interview, we articulated on a dimensional basis in which the life story (Bertaux 2003; Rosenthal 1993) constitutes the incipit of a story aimed at exploring the forms and spaces in which the techniques of the self emerge as practices aimed at the constitution of the future self.

Constructed following the narrative approach of life stories, the empirical basis consists of 40 discursive interviews analysed following the hermeneutic approach (Montesperelli 1998) to text analysis.


Although the analysis of data is still on going, the textual corpus already allows us to glimpse how, among the young entrepreneurs we interviewed, there are those who orient the processes of ethical self-government in terms of ecological ethopoiesis; in "an attention to the world as a common habitat" (Marzocca 2017, 195) that challenges the logic of neo-liberal governmentality.

In this perspective, the technologies of the self seem to configure an emancipatory opportunity; i.e. in the combination between self-care in a pedagogical function, asceticism and prove themselves with which that perspective exercise capable of advancing the subject towards new forms of life is realised.


Maria Vinciguerra

Università degli studi di Palermo, Italy

The paper aims to present, through an educational approach, a reflection about generativity, defined as the desire to leave a positive legacy and related activities that raise outcomes for future generations (Erikson, 1963; McAdams et al., 1993). Sustaining the future has been identified as a key factor in the welfare of future generations and the desire to leave a positive legacy (Hauser et al., 2014) helps young adult to cope with the challenges of the transition to adulthood in contemporary life. However, interdisciplinary theoretical insight suggests that generativity as a targeted midlife task may no longer be sufficient for explaining a life course pattern of generative concerns, commitment, and actions (Kim et al., 2017). Some scholars of symbolic-relational area interpret the generativity as an essentially relational construct: it is the value of the relationship between the generations (Scabini, Rossi, 2012; Marta et al., 2012). In agreement with these studies, generativity derives from the relationship with the other and it expresses itself in the relationship with the other. We can consider generativity as a product of the relationship between different generations, not only of the individual him/herself. The analysis underlines how the intergenerational dimension is at the origin of the family generativity (Dollahite et al., 1998) as it develops and grows thanks to the donative sources within the family systems. Family generativity is a holistic concept because it is inherently familiar, intergenerational, relational and communal. It involves the care for the rising generation by the previous generations, including the grandparent generation, not simply as individuals but also as the extended family group that makes up the “older generation”. The discussion points out emerging educational needs not only related to young people but also adults; today there is a priority to educate the adults to take and rewrite their generative role in an intergenerational exchange that cannot and must not be interrupted, but that has to turn into the social, cultural and economic current scenario linked to the pandemic.


Dollahite D.C., Slife B.D., Hawkins A.J. (1998). Family Generativity and Generative Counseling: Helping Families Keep Faith With the Next Generation (449-481). In McAdams, D.P., de St. Aubin, E. (eds.), Generativity and adult development. How and why we care for the next generation. Washington: American Psychological Association.

Erikson EH (1963). Childhood and society. New York: Norton.

Hauser O.P., Rand D.G., Peysakhovich A., Nowak M.A. (2014). Cooperating with the future. Nature 511 (7508): 220–223.

Kim, S., Chee, K.H., Gerhart, O. (2017). Redefining generativity: Through life course and pragmatist lenses. Sociology Compass 11.

Marta, E., Lanz, M., Tagliabue, S. (2012). The Transition to Adulthood and Generativity: a Family Generative Climate (147-159). In Scabini E., Rossi G. (eds.) (2012). Family Transitions and Families in Transition. Milano: Vita e Pensiero.

McAdams, D.P., de St. Aubin, E., Logan, R.L. (1993). Generativity among young, midlife, and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 8 (2): 221–230.


Magda Nico


The debate on agency (and structure) in young people’s lives is a never ending one in Sociology and in Youth related Studies in particular. It is likely the pandemic has put the sense of self, the importance of the interdependency of lives, and the very relation between biography and society into “high definition mode” not only for sociologists but also, perhaps even more so, for everyone else. It is also likely that this historical landmark, having caught young people in a particular timing of their lives – where the notion of autonomy, of self, of will, and of the very “agency” even in put in different terms , are bubbling - will produce important and long lasting effects in the way these people live and perceive their lives with a framework of structural constraints.

But how to tackle this while having Furlong’s “epistemological fallacy” in mind? How to attempt to tackle this without simply and acritically reproducing young people’s own perceptions? Can we continue to resort exclusively to qualitative methods, or could we dare to use quantitative methods, to do so? In this presentation I present an analysis of young people’s trajectories during a different crisis (2008) through a life-course agency-structure lens (Nico, 2021), and question the potential value of this methodological strategy for the analysis of the trajectories of young people under the current pandemic crisis.

Nico, Magda (2021), “The go-between. Young-ish trajectories through a life course agency–structure lens” in Nico and Caetano (Eds,), Structure and agency in young People’s lives, Routledge.


Danilo di Emidio

University of East London - UBEL/DTP, United Kingdom

Late-adolescents (16-18 years old) experience multifaceted aspects that contribute to their mental health (MH), particularly, the inevitable pressure of high-stake examinations. This largely stems from the pressure of transitioning to adulthood with increased responsibilities for one's future. It is here that compulsory education becomes implicated with human rights and, in turn, faces the spectres of its own crisis or offers reflexive opportunities for service-users/stakeholders (parents, teachers and students) to overcome the crisis. Drawing from an interpretation of my overall experience as a teacher and a researcher in the British secondary education system, I critically assess the compatibility of the Reforming Mental Health Act (RMHA, 2021) with human rights such as ‘choice and autonomy’. For seven months, sixteen late-adolescents co-researched as part of my ethnography, which focuses on the influence of formal education on adolescents’ MH. Comparing to students ages 10-11, late-adolescents showed that they are grappling with introspection (e.g., self-esteem, self-doubt) and therefore managing different layers of ‘recognition’, influencing their subjective wellbeing and, successively, their MH. Therefore, it is essential for the RMHA briefing to influence the Mental Health Act reform and subsequently inform educational policies, how they are implemented, the extent they are enforced in the hierarchical school/college structure, and how the student population perceives them through the school/college environment. This is because policy influence is multiple and intersecting with broader aspects of adolescents’ educational life while transitioning to adulthood, therefore constitutive and generative of the modality of beings that recognize service users/stakeholders’ views and choices.


Airi-Alina Allaste

University of Helsinki, Collegium of Advanced Studies, Finland

During the time of crisis young people’s opportunities are further decreased, at the same time activism and participation has increased. Young people have been expressing themselves politically differently already before the pandemic. Social media, in particular, is thought to open up new means of being political, albeit with strong criticism of participation via this means also noted. On the one hand, there is unprecedented access to information and diversification of political participation, on the other hand, the spread of disinformation and algorithmically engineered communicative fragmentation might feed political polarisation.
TikTok, a video sharing platform known for dancing, lip-syncing, and challenges, has been one of the biggest hits of lockdown. Recently user videos expressing political views have become increasingly common: dancing and lip-syncing are used for critical speeches and challenges to make a political point. Based on data from social media networks, especially TikTok, the paper investigates how new forms of youth agency and political subjectivity are made online.


Ilaria Pitti1, Dario Tuorto2

1University of Bologna, Italy; 2University of Bologna, Italy

In its broadest meaning, “boredom” describes a state of having nothing to do and of being disengaged from one’s surroundings which develops when external circumstances distance individuals from the life they hope for (Bourdieu 2000). Emerging from a situation in which individual desires, intentions, ambitions become temporarily impossible to achieve, the experience of boredom highlights a discrepancy between the societal and the subjective time when the individual perceives oneself as “blocked” while the surrounding world keeps moving (Frederiksen 2017). During the Covid-19 pandemic, boredom, doing nothing, and disengagement have become daily experiences for most young people. Being harshly deprived of all opportunities for face-to-face socialization and interaction due to the preventive measures, young people have found themselves dealing with a feeling that our accelerated society has for a long time neglected and stigmatized (Rosa 2013). Drawing on a qualitative study conducted through interviews and focus groups with Italian young people (16 – 20), the paper proposes a preliminary analysis of young individuals’ experiences of boredom during the current pandemic asking: a) how have young people – individually and collectively - navigated boredom? b) how are they making sense of the discrepancy between societal and individual time? c) how is their overall experience of boredom mediated by social background? Through these questions, the presentation aims at shedding light on practices and cultures of boredom emerging amongst young people in this unprecedented time.


Maria Grazia Gambardella1, Carmen Leccardi2

1University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy; 2University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy

Several of the investigations that have attempted to cover the reality of youth over the last decades (Caniglia 2002; Diamanti 2000; Koesnsler, Rossi 2012) underline the fact that younger generations today seem to have developed a strong sense of rejection of the political dimension. According to Beck (1997; 2013), however, this ‘un-political’ attitude is in a sense extremely political: young people see themselves as rebelling against monotony and the duties they are expected to mindlessly fulfill. In Beck’s view, political involvement with the institutions is not lacking because of the subjects’ (young or otherwise) unwillingness to pursue the common good, but because the ‘executive service’ required by those institutions is rigidly hierarchical. Thus, we are not witnessing a lapse in values, but a search for values that can make everyday life meaningful and allow for the accumulation of experience. This apparent depoliticization is, in fact, a solid movement of subpoliticization – a bottom-up challenge to conventional politics (Alteri, Leccardi, Raffini, 2017).

This paper presents the first results of a study carried out by the research group of the Department of Sociology and Social Research of the University of Milano-Bicocca as part of the ongoing PRIN project ‘Mapping youth futures: forms of anticipation and youth agency’, started in August 2019.

More precisely, our aim is to offer a reflection on the visions of politics of young women and men aged between 25 and 34 as it relates to the increasing dilation and suspension of the transition to adult life – especially after the economic, social, and cultural fractures caused by the effects of COVID-19. Through 40 narrative interviews conducted all over Italy between September 2019 and December 2020 with young people involved in non-conventional forms of politics, we will focus on the way in which the intersection of gender, education level, ethnic background, territorial collocation, and social-cultural capital results in different forms of negotiating the transition to adult life, as well as different ways of relating to the future (Cahill, Leccardi, 2020; Musumeci, 2020; Rebughini, Colombo, Leonini, 2017). The analysis of narrative forms in relation to political and social involvement at this stage of life for young people grown up in different territorial settings (Milan, Naples, Cosenza, Cagliari) allows us to demonstrate the intertwinement between the centrality of everyday life, forms of activisms, and forms of negotiation in relation to the transition to adulthood. We will focus our attention on the experiences of young people involved with associations, informal groups, community centers, and movements – spaces of daily life in which the subjects find meaning for their actions, in which the present coexist with the past and with projections into the future. The spatiotemporal limits of these spaces and experiences have been profoundly redefined by the limitations imposed by COVID-19. Regardless, they still frequently empower young men and women to imagine a society characterized by new rights, new practices, new social balances, and new forms of well-being together (that is, of being a society).