Generational differences and cultural change
2012-11-08T09:58:02Z (GMT) by
Young people are arguably facing complex life situations in their transition into adulthood and navigating their life trajectories in a highly individualised way. For youth in post-compulsory education, their training years have been extended, their years of dependency have increased and they have greater individual choice compared to previous youth generations. This study develops an understanding of the process of individualisation applied to youth in late modernity and explores it in relation to the neo-liberal climate. It compares the life situation of this youth generation with youth in the early 1960s, brought up with more predefined traditional conditions, cemented in traditional social structures. The processes that led to generational changes in the experiences of youth in the last forty-five years are examined, linked to structural transformations that influence subjective experiences. Specifically, the shifts of the conditions of youth in post-compulsory education are studied in relations to socio-economic, technological and cultural changes. This study discusses the Western Anglo-American model of changes in youths life experiences and examines how it (mis)fits in a more conservative Catholic Mediterranean setting. The research investigates conditions in Malta, an ex-colonial small island Mediterranean state, whose peculiarities include its delayed economic development compared to the Western setting. The core of the research comprises of primary data collection using in-depth, ethnographical interviews, with two generations of youth in different socio-historical context; those who experienced their youth in the early 1960s and youth in the late 2000s. This study concludes that the concept of individualisation does indeed illuminate the experiences of youth in late modernity especially when compared to the experiences of youth forty-five years ago. However the concept of individualisation is applied in a glocalised manner in line with the peculiarities of Malta that has lagged behind mainstream developments in Western Europe and still retained traditional features. Building on the individualisation concept, I use an empirically grounded concept of compromised choices to describe the increase in the bargaining of choice happening at different fronts in the life experiences of youth, especially in the life biography of women, choices in education and the job market and choices in consumption.