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New influences on Youth, according to Dewey and Brison

Youth interviewed for my book on how global youth are transforming our future report that just because adults were once teenagers, it doesn’t mean they understand today’s teens because life is different now. The context youth face is described by editors Susan Dewey and Karen Brison as follows. New influences are access to global trends that stress individualism and consumerism made possible by Internet, mass media and mobile phones. Migration or warfare separates youth from their parents. Mass education takes children out of the home and away from family labor may impact socialization of the students differently than what the family values. Other influences are NGOs in developing areas teach “youth agency” emphasizing rights, such as the right for children to go to school rather than have to work or girls’ right to be empowered. They are targeted by some religious groups such ad evangelicals. Youth also have to cope with increasing unemployment rates and reduced government support that followed neoliberal restructuring programs to pay national debts in the 1980s, increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, and being AIDS orphans. Dewey and Brison maintain that young people’s task in facing all these modern changes is to define their own special gendered identities within their local cultures. Developing nations also aim to define their cultural identities; “ideas about children and youth are integral to national and regional attempts to define self relative to former colonizers and wealthier nations.”


Susan Dewey and Karen Brison, editors. Super Girls, Gangstas, Freeters, and Xenomaniacs. Syracuse University Press, 2012.

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