Phenomenology of Youth Cultures and Globalization

Call for Chapters: Phenomenology of Youth Cultures and Globalization: Lifeworlds and Surplus Meanings in Changing Times
Edited by Stuart Poyntz and Jacqueline Kennelly

We are seeking chapter contributions to this edited collection, to be published by Routledge in their Studies in Social and Political Thought series ( To indicate your interest in the collection, please submit an extended abstract of 750 words, describing your chapter’s key aims and how it fits within the edited collection’s goals, as described below. The deadline for extended abstract submissions is Friday, February 15th, 2013. If accepted, full chapters (7000-8000 words) will be due Friday, May 3rd, 2013 and may include limited visual components (photographs, drawings, etc). We would particularly welcome contributions from scholars located in and/or writing about the Global South.

Submit your extended abstracts electronically to: on or before February 15th, 2013.

Background, Rationale and Overarching Aims of Collection
Globalization is the central philosopheme of our era, the focal objectification of lived experience in space and time used to understand what is novel and fundamental for human experience today. Phenomenology is a philosophical tradition with roots in early twentieth century European thought, currently being reinvigorated across diverse disciplines as a crucial approach for tackling complex questions regarding lived experience, meaning-making processes, and subjectivity. This edited collection will traverse these two conceptual epistemes in order to address the following question:

How can phenomenology and phenomenological modes of analysis help us to understand the sense-making practices deployed by young people in the context of asymmetrical globalization in the global North and South?

In turning to phenomenology to understand how young people are living out their contemporary lives, we aim to resuscitate and historicize the formative, if sometimes unacknowledged role phenomenology has had within youth cultural studies, the sociology of youth, and related fields. Within this framing, the collection also builds on an ever-expanding body of evidence which makes clear that globalization is unfolding within social networks, among communities, and within the complexities of the new global metropolis through novel and profound forms of inequity. We contend, however, that all of us – young and old, those from the global North and South – are also already agents in and of globalization. Consequently, young people in particular appear to have existential evidence “at ontic and mundane levels” of what it means to live, survive and even flourish under the constraints of a new global order (Mendieta, 2007, p. 40). In saying this, we do not wish to privilege youth voice as a medium of truth, but contend that because the “private subjective accounts of young people … are always symbolically produced in a specific space and time” (Dillabough & Kennelly, 2010, p. 51), they contain what Paul Ricoeur would call a ‘surplus of meaning.’ This might be understood as an excess through which it becomes possible to chart the social imaginaries of youth cultures unfolding in the new and oftentimes perilous circumstances of a widely felt global futurity.

Used in this way, social imaginaries refer to what Ricoeur described as:

That body of collective stories, histories and ideologies which inform our modes of socio-political action. Social imagination,… is constitutive of our lived reality … [But this means t]he social imagination serves both an ideological role of identification and a utopian role of disruption. The former preserves and conserves; the latter projects alternatives (Kearney 2004, p. 86).

Where globalization is a worldview or philosopheme, it is also a system through which individual lifeworlds are structured in particular ways. To be structured as such is simultaneously to experience a de-structuring of older lifeworlds, and as a consequence, the development of “processes that have given rise to new horizons of experience and expectation” (Mendieta 2007, p. 20).

In this situation, the task of phenomenologically informed inquiries is to describe youth experience as it is lived in the context of globalization, to understand the patterns of meaning that emerge in the midst of the totality of human-being-in-the-world (Heidegger 1962/orig. 1927). To do this, a key objective is to identify young people’s “symbolic worlds as a detour through [which] other spatial, structural, moral and temporal narratives and registers” can be addressed (Dillabough and Kennelly, 2010, p. 51). Here, the “boundedness” of young people’s lives in the context of global life can be preserved and conserved alongside those social, political, and cultural possibilities that are emergent among contemporary youth.

With this backdrop, we are seeking contributions that explore, through an explicitly phenomenological lens, the everyday experiences and meaning-making processes of contemporary youth cultures in the context of globalization. Some potential topics include (but are not limited to):

· Explorations of youth cultures that phenomenologically account for temporality and historicity – ie studies that consider the historical formation of contemporary youth cultures, or that examine the recurrence of historical themes within current youth self-representations.

· The roles of inter-relationality, inter-subjectivity, and/or the ‘web of relations’ in shaping youth experiences and youth cultures, explored phenomenologically.

· Conceptual pieces that explore the contribution made by phenomenology to youth subcultural theory or youth studies.

· The processes of meaning-making employed by young people, particularly as they attempt to make sense of asymmetrical globalization and its effects on their lives.

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