19 SES 01 A, Pedagogies and Partispaces: Power, practices, styles. A Symposium from the Partispace Study of Youth Participation in Eight European Cities
The concept of style was mobilised to understand how participation is performed by different groups of young people and enabled a reading of how boundaries were negotiated and renegotiated. The heuristic of ‘formal’, ‘informal’ and ‘non-formal’ was initially used to categorise our ethnographic case studies but although useful as a sampling device, there was not a consistent ‘style’ of participation within each category. Rather what we saw was a blurring of the ways that young people were stylising their expressions, particularly when appealing for public recognition. Not necessarily consistent with normative expectations of ‘participation’ , we found ourselves drawn to notice how young people themselves attribute meaning to their participative practices. To further elaborate our conceptualisation of style, we looked to youth subcultures literature as it emerged from Birmingham CCCS (Hall and Jefferson; 1978; Hebdige, 1978). The concept enabled us to pay attention to the signifying practices formulated and made meaningful by group members but also to rules and values are embedded within these practices. Although the concept of youth sub-cultures has been much refined (Shildrick and MacDonald, 2006; Shildrick, 2006), we contend that the mobilisation of ‘style’ as a concept enabled observed patterns at the group level to be compared in meaningful ways. In particular, we are interested to explore young people’s attempts at recognition within the public realm, and how they are received. We show how engagement in these participatory practices provide meaning to young people’s biographies whilst, at a societal level, mental and ideological transformations being created can act as kind of ‘canary in the mineshaft’ for politics. New possibilities are therefore presented within cultural expressions first, leaving political forms to play catch up. Such conceptualisations are useful in understanding the relationship between the identity, group style formation and democracy, through an analysis of ‘structures of feeling’: they are to do with feeling, connecting, sense-making with others and towards others, and they are constructed in performance, and expression (Williams, 1977; 1980; Anderson, 2014). Thus there is a link between intrinsic and extrinsic cultural processes of meaning-making on an individual and group level and possible transformations in broader social and political projects. Through this reconceptualization of style, this paper seeks to discuss how these processes function, acquire meaning and are performed by young people, using empirical examples from a homeless charity in England, a culture and arts project in France and an Ultra’s group in Italy.
Anderson, B. (2014) Encountering Affect: Capacities, Apparatuses, Conditions. Ashgate; Surrey. Hall, S. & Jefferson, T. eds (1978) Resistance through rituals: Youth subcultures in post war Britain, London: Hutchinson. Hebdige, D. (1978) Subculture: The meaning of style. London: Methuan Shildrick, T. A. and MacDonald, R. (2006) 'In defence of subculture: young people, leisure and social divisions', Journal of Youth Studies, 9 (2), pp.125-140. Shildrick, T. A (2006) ‘Youth culture, subculture and the importance of neighbourhood’ Young 14 (1) pp 61-74. Williams, R (1977) Marxism and Literature, London: OUP.
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