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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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7 An ‘Evolving Criticality’ in Youth and/or Student Voice in Schools in Hardening Neoliberal Times

← 68 | 69 →CHAPTER 7


At the outset I want to acknowledge a deep debt of gratitude to Joe Kincheloe (2010), from whom I am borrowing the notion of ‘evolving criticality’. No one could do it like Joe, but I want to attempt in a modest way I hope Joe would have liked, to build on an important concept to which he alerted us. One of the primary hallmarks of an ‘evolving criticality’ for Kincheloe (2010), was its commitment to listening carefully to the voices of all who are the object of oppression, so as to enlighten “the critical canon” (p. 27). There is profound respect here, too, for incompleteness, a restlessness for “new theoretical insights … problems and social circumstances” (p. 27), an ever-present threat of “exclusion from the domain of approved research methods” (p. 27), and a need for “a variety of tools” with which to expose any theoretical perspectives that “fail to understand the malevolent workings of power” (p. 28). I hope I am up to the task of addressing these in what follows, in a novel way.

My opening claim in this chapter is that young people, especially those from the most disadvantaged contexts, are being ‘consumed’ by capitalism within the context of schooling. In pursuing this line I am not endorsing a ‘thin’ view of consumption, which might be seen as equating to the commercialization and exploitation of schools by the corporate sector, appalling though that is. Rather, I am ascribing a much thicker meaning to consumption, as referring...

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