Preface by Paul Willis
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.
9 No Bailouts for Youth: Broken Promises and Dashed Hopes
← 96 | 97 →CHAPTER 9
By almost any political, economic, and ethical measure, Barack Obama’s election victory in 2008 inherited a set of problems produced by one of the darkest periods in American history.1 In the eight years prior to Obama’s presidency, not only did the spaces where genuine politics could occur largely disappear as a result of an ongoing assault by the market-driven forces of privatization, deregulation, and unrestrained corporate power, but there was also a radical hardening of the culture that increasingly disparaged democratic values, the public good, and human dignity—and with these the safety nets provided by a once-robust but now exiled social state. George W. Bush, the privileged and profligate son of a wealthy Texas oilman, became the embodiment of a political era in which willful immaturity and stubborn civic illiteracy found its match in an emerging culture of excess and irresponsibility.2 As the age of casino capitalism reigned supreme over American society, the ongoing work of democratization—along with the public spheres needed to sustain it—became an increasingly fragile, perhaps even dysfunctional, project. Market principles now reached far beyond the realm of the economic and played a formative role in influencing and organizing every domain of human activity and interaction, while simultaneously launching a frontal attack on notions of a common good, public purpose, non-commodified values, and democratic modes of governing.
Yet even in the aftermath of the October 2008 global financial crisis and the historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the...
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