07 SES 02 B JS, Youth Perspectives on Social Justice and Globalization
Joint Paper Session with NW 05 and NW 07
Compared to many other countries, Australia’s young population has been shielded from the worst effects of the Global Financial Crisis and the ensuing climate of economic austerity: while youth unemployment remains an issue here, for example, its rate and scale has been lower by comparison with the catastrophic impacts on young people in parts of Europe. Perhaps as a result, the widespread youth protests and unrest which have characterised many European nations in recent years have been less dramatic in Australia.
This is not to suggest that young people in Australia are not concerned about the nature of democracy, their role as citizens in times of austerity, or the effects and impacts of those times on them and their communities. Rather than being moderated through traditional or centralised political institutions or affiliations, however, young people’s citizenship concerns and commitments are increasingly enacted in informal and localised ways.
Some of these informal and local acts of democratic participation are enacted with the support of local government agencies. Others are supported by schools in efforts to engage young people in education as well as in the project of active citizenship. Particularly in poorly resourced schools and economically risky communities bearing the brunt of austerity policies, educators are developing innovative educational curricula which support young people to take social action as active citizens within their local community.
The evidence is that these curricula have real meaning for the educators conducting them and the young people participating in them. They also shed needed light on the importance of the geographies of citizenship: that is, they have the potential to bring new understandings of the local geographies that shape young people’s experience of citizenship in differently scaled and situated communities (Walsh & Black, forthcoming; Wood & Black, forthcoming).
Despite this, the pressure of educational standardisation and reform means that many of these curricula remain entirely ‘off the radar’ of education systems and invisible to policymakers. Some operate outside the formal curriculum and school structures and most are overlooked by standard civics and citizenship education curricula and modes of educational measurement and assessment. They are also overlooked by standard measures of youth citizenship, which inform education and youth policy.
The invisibility of such curricula, and of the citizenship acts in which young people engage outside the curriculum, perpetuates the standardisation of educational systems. It also entrenches the persistent risk discourses to which young people in economically precarious communities have long been subject (Black & Walsh, 2015; Follesø, 2015).
Black, R. & Walsh, L. (2015). ‘Educating the Risky Citizen: Young People, Vulnerability and Schooling’. In K. te Riele & R. Gorur (Eds.), Interrogating Conceptions of “Vulnerable Youth” in Theory, Policy and Practice (pp.181-194). Sense series: Innovations and Controversies: Interrogating Educational Change. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers Follesø, R. (2015). Youth at Risk or Terms at Risk? Young, 23(3), 240-253.) Walsh, L. & Black, R. (forthcoming). Rethinking Youth Citizenship after the Age of Entitlement. London: Bloomsbury Wood, B.E. & Black, R. (forthcoming). ‘Spatial, relational and affective understandings of citizenship and belonging for young people today’. In Halse, C. (Ed.) Interrogating belonging among young people in schooling. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
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