Agency e chance di vita: i giovani alla prova
di Elena Besozzi
E. Besozzi, Towards a reconceptualization of the youth condition
Study and understand young people today is very difficult and challenging. A good strategy
is to consider the condition of contemporary youth at the center of the relationship between
the generations. In this way, the transition to adulthood becomes a central aspect of this relationship:
we can consider the action of the actors and the importance of different contexts and
social structures. The examination of the transition to adulthood shows a wealth of concepts
and categories of interpretation, but it also highlights the need to submission to a critical review.
In particular, the concept of generation, developed by Karl Mannheim, is enriched today
with many aspects in relation to a globalized culture and new digital technologies. The youth
condition, in the end, emerges in all its variety and richness, it’s a long moratorium, but with
a lot of experimentation and new form of dynamic and in which he also notes the need for
Key words: youth condition, transition to adulthood, generations, long moratorium, adult generations,
di Andreas Walther
A.Walther, Youth - actor of social change? Differences and convergences across Europe
Young people are often referred to as the future of society while they are also increasingly
made responsible for investing too little in education, for not being ready to adapt their job
aspirations, for postponing family building or for refusing participation as active citizens. This
discourse neglects the biographical dilemmas young people are facing under conditions of destandardised
youth transitions and uncertain futures. It relies upon research conducted in the
framework of the European research network EGRIS (European Group for Integrated Social
Research) which allow to reflect on how young people’s motivation for agency evolves across
different social contexts. The article aims at differentiating the understanding of young people’s
agency. First, a biographical approach is introduced. Qualitative research has identified
four principles of young people’s coping strategies which reflect such biographical dilemmas
and which characterise young people’s agency and decision-making processes: choice, keeping
options open, reconciliation, and self-presentation. A second line of differentiation is offered
through a comparative approach laying focus on the different cultural and institutional normalities
of growing up. A comparative model of transition regimes has been developed which outlines
different configurations of how societies regulate young people’s transitions.
Key-words: young people’s agency, biographical approach, coping strategies, social and cultural
contexts, model of transition, comparative approach.
di Nicola De Luigi
N. De Luigi, Transition to adulthood in European societies: new research directions between fallacies
During the past decades, youth transitions have become not only prolonged but also more
fragmented and diversified. These changes have encouraged new research directions in contemporary
youth studies. Compared to perspectives developed in the 1970s and 1980s, researchers
aim today to consider individual agency as being more significant, focusing on the capability of
young people to make plans, exercise choices and shape their lives within the opportunities and
constraints that face them. These new theoretical perspectives have also promoted new representations
of youth transitions in academic literature. This paper explores the emergence of the
image of navigation in youth research, certainly the most used metaphor in the last years. As will
be discussed, navigation image can be useful to characterise the lives of young people in changing
social landscapes in which uncertainty tends to dominate and where feelings of contingency
increase. Provided of course that it is used with precision and tested adequately in particular
social contexts in order to capture the complexity and diversity of young people’s lives rather
than making useless and confused generalisations.
Key words: Individualisation, structure/agency; transition to adulthood; young people; youth
di Cristina Pasqualini
C. Pasqualini, Adulthood: representations, planning and styles of transition in young generations
This paper analyses representations, planning and styles of transition in two different generations
of young people: Stuck Generation – thirty years old youngs – and Active generation
– twenty years old youngs. Both generations show elements of continuity and (interesting) discontinuity.
While Stuck Generation is characterized by limited planning and strong privatism,
Active Generation is proving a major social and political commitment, a more critical attitude and
desire to invest in their future. In general terms, in recent years, the life course has lost linearity,
becoming complex and «de-standardized», leading sociology of youth to rethink the process of
transition to adulthood.
Key words: youth, generations, social representations, planning, transition to adulthood
di Maddalena Colombo
M. Colombo, Gender’s dreams. Inequalities and resources in the imagined future of the teenagers
What and how do adolescents make dreams about their future? How much are they prepared
to social competition? Are they aware of gender inequalities and differences operating within the
system of choices? Do they exploit these differences for reaching their targets? Through the data
set of a national enquiry «Prin 2005 – Adolescents and Life chance», this essays makes distinctions
between the «female» and the «male» way to live the present as a condition and a preview
of the future, also underlining the existence of gendered resources to imagine the future itself.
If nowadays adolescents live in a frame of increasing «de-differentiation» (boys and girls having
same targets, similar psychological states, and tacitly agree with the issue of gender parity), with
no doubt they are greatly influenced by discriminating rules and mechanism of the system of
chances. Girls are requested of a long-time commitment until the graduation in order to obtain
security and personal realization. Boys instead are requested to make projects of work, earning and professional career, with a short-term life planning, in order to overtake the «test of future».
At the present, girls and boys live together and exchange continuously their visions in a sort of coeducation:
material and cultural consumption are the features of the female-side, large network
of relations and distance from institutions of the male-side.
Key words: gender differentiation, educational choices, orientation towards future, gendered patterns
of life planning, gender inequalities.
di Piermarco Aroldi
P. Aroldi, Digital generation? Young people and new communication technologies, beyond the
Young people seem to have a peculiar relationship with Information and Communication
Technologies (ICTs), and some scholars are accostumed to refer to them as a generation of «digital
natives». Such a rhetoric approach, very common in social discourses, is here questioned
because it tends to hide the complexity of the sociological notion of «generation» and the differences
still standing among young people about digital and internet literacies: a sort of digital
divide in access and uses, affecting both intragenerational and intergenerational relationships.
Digital competences for identity expression, social and political participation, learning and creativity
are evaluated as far as tools for empowering youth’s agency and life-chances, focussing on
conflicting dynamics of emancipation, on the one side, and reproduction of social, economic and
cultural capitals of the families, on the other side.
Key words: Youth, ICTs, internet, agency, digital divide, generations.
di Maurizio Merico
M. Merico, Youth, Generations and Change in Karl Mannheim’s Sociology
This paper revisits Karl Mannheim’s contribution to the sociological understanding of the
role of ‘generation’ and ‘youth’ in the processes of change, framing the analysis within his intellectual
development. In the first section, Mannheim’s ‘formal’ analysis in his short essay ‘The
Problem of Generations’ is presented in the context of his approach to the ‘sociology of knowledge‘.
Particular attention is paid to the dialectical relationship that he identified between the
pace of change and the succession of generations, as well as to the potential contribution of young
people to social and cultural change. The second section, moving from the development of his
ideas towards a ‘sociology of democratic planning’, considers and discusses the suggestion that
youth might be understood as a latent resource and a potential agent of change. This discussion
is broadened to consider general issues of youth policies and social education. The overall thrust
of the analysis suggests that, more than sixty years after his death, Mannheim’s sociology raises
questions and issues still relevant today for the study of generations, youth, and social and cultural
change, although many of the issues he illuminated remain unresolved.
Key words: succession of generations, youth, social and cultural change, sociology of knowledge,
di Cristina Pasqualini