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The Locus of Self: Youth Culture and Commodification

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 03:26 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 33.8 
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‘Youth’ is a concept used to demarcate a particular stage in the life-span development of an individual. This period in a person’s life is considered formative in the creation of their identity. Interdependence and independence are essential to an individual’s sense of self and place within social groups. Consequently the sub-cultures and peer groups which youths involve themselves in are a shaping influence on their sense of identity. The sociology of youth culture has sought to understand the nature of this collective sense of identity, its relation to adult culture and societal structures. Youth culture can often seem permeated with oppositional defiance, youth defining their identity in contradistinction to adult culture. The issue arising from this phenomenon is whether youth culture challenges the dominant structures of society. Or can youth culture be viewed as hedonistic and an expression of superficial rebellion and political conservatism. To address these issues this paper will first define ‘youth’ and ‘culture’, further elucidating the formation of youth identity through their particular consumption patterns and the effect of this consumption on society’s dominant structures. In answering the question, the paper will ascertain whether Youth culture represents resistance to the status quo or commodified compliance.



It has been argued that ‘youth’ is an invented category imagined after World-War Two (Nilan, 2007, p. 113). Currently youth has come to represent a specific demographic, roughly those individuals between the ages of ten and their late twenties (Nilan, 2007, p. 113). The exact nature of this transformation from childhood to adulthood is highly culturally specific and differs between societies (Nilan, 2007, p.113). There are numerous factors which influence the dynamic of youth within high income economies situated in Australia, North America and Western Europe. Lengthening of the human life-span and structural changes in the...

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