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Critical Youth Studies Reader

Preface by Paul Willis

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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29 Posthuman(ist) Youth: Control, Play, and Possibilities

← 348 | 349 →CHAPTER 29


What Came After Postmodernism?

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, the style, substance, and meaning of the postmodern condition was intensely debated. Was the postmodern a moment in time, an era, or a concept that rejected modern notions of segments of time? Was it a new architectural form, a new writing style, or a novel way to think about the world? In Jean-François Lyotard’s (1984) prescient report to the French speaking universities in Canada, he highlighted some key issues that will define the postmodern condition. Besides raising an incredulous suspicion of all metanarratives that claimed to hold the key to all the answers humans seek, and predicting the decline of nation-state power, Lyotard also noted intense transformations in institutions of learning and the nature of knowledge. Replacing nation-states as the major arbiter of knowledge would be multinational corporations, and knowledge would be better defined as information. As a result of these changes, important questions were raised concerning the possibility for a democratic society to thrive in a postmodern world. In order for democracies to remain vibrant and viable, Lyotard believed that access to information was crucial, since those who were able to define what is valuable information and what is not would control the conditions of possibility for a democracy.

Moreover, as universities and nation-states were beginning to experience a transformation of meaning, the notion of performativity was also being redefined. In the traditional humanist and liberal arts approach, performativity referred to...

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