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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

Edited By Awad Ibrahim and Shirley R. Steinberg

This book won the 2014 AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award.

This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
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Critical Youth Studies: An Introduction



Our aim in this reader is to create an architecture of propositions that is not concerned with the question, “Is this youth studies?” But one which asks, “Why are we conducting youth studies and what do we do with it?” (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987; Deleuze, 1985; Massumi, 1993).

This architecture of propositions for youth studies directly impacts and is impacted by spaces, concepts, intensities and constructs that are found in different fields of study. These include sociology (especially youth culture), cultural studies (media and pop culture), psychoanalysis (desire and seduction), and anthropology (language, cultural maps, norms and values). We are keen on answering our question pedagogically, “Why are we conducting youth studies and what do we do with it?” We emphasize transformative pedagogy, best practices, and leadership as a way to “think through” (Derrida, 2000) this thing, youth studies. The history of youth studies has always been something that is done to youth. Instead, this reader approaches youth studies as something that we can do with youth (Tilleczek, 2011), or something that youth can do themselves. This is why we distinguish between “youth studies” and the “studies of youth.”

Traditionally, the studies of youth focus on ‘understanding’ youth as a special category, as researchers remain outsiders looking in. Starting in the 1950s, most of the studies of youth were done by sociologists, who reached their peak with the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham in the 1970s and early...

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