28 SES 11, Citizenship, Cultures and Practices I: The Social Construction of the Self
Parallel Paper Session
This paper is part of a larger project on identity construction of three generations of young men and women in China and Norway.
As a result of the ‘glocal’ forces (Robertson, 1995), young people’s identity construction is being played out in dramatically different contexts compared with earlier generations. This can have significant implications for intercultural contact, community building, democracy, civic engagement and social integration, hence the future of our world. However, due to paucity in grounded investigation into concrete individuals’ (and groups’) lived experiences of modernity, we still lack knowledge about how young people are actually negotiating ‘modern’ identities within their local contexts. Comparative information about youth’s identity construction across cultures (and/or over time)will prove invaluable for filling this knowledge gap by revealing the complexity entailed in social transformation and its impact on emerging forms of identity in local contexts and by analyzing the dynamic interaction between the local and the global.
The purpose of this paper is to explore identity construction of young men and young women in their last year of upper secondary school in two contrasting societies, China and Norway, by focusing on their gender conceptions and practices. The main objectives are:
- To explore the gender conceptions of young men and young women in the two societies and their gender practices in negotiating ‘modern’ identities.
- To identify differences and similarities between the two societies in young men’s and young women’s changing gender conceptions and practices.
- To analyze the emerging gender identities in the light of the interactions between the local cultural dynamics and global forces.
- To explore the implications that the emerging gender identities may have for social relations, citizenship, social inclusion and exclusion, intercultural contact and education.
Our theoretical point of departure is that despite the homogenizing forces of global modernization, the processes through which youth identities are forged, as well as the nature of identities under construction, may still be different due to the specific ways in which local dynamics interacts with global forces. Thus, any attempt at understanding how young people in different parts of the world are negotiating ‘modern’ identities needs to situate their life stories within their specific, local socio-cultural contexts, albeit against the larger backdrop of global modernization. Two (complementary) theoretical contributions are highly relevant for such a purpose in this study as they both allow for an understanding of the interactive relationship between individuals’ lives and their historical and socio-cultural contexts: Rose’s (1996a, 1996b) genealogy of subjectification and Mannheim’s (1952) theory of generations. For further examination, we will draw on works on contemporary social change (e.g., Appadurai, 1996; Bauman, 2004; Beck, 1992; Dirlik, 2003; Gaonkar, 1999; Giddens 1991; Martinelli, 2005) and works on changing gender conceptions and practices in the age of global modernization (e.g. Nielsen and Rudberg, 2006).
Appadurai, A. (1996) Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. University of Minnesota: Minnepolis. Bauman, Z. (2004) Identity: Conversations with Benedetto Vecchi. Cambridge, UK: Polity Beck, U. (1992). Risk society: Towards a new modernity. London: Sage Publications. Dollard, J. (1935). Criteria for the life history: With analysis of six notable documents. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Dirlik, A. (2003) Global modernity?: Modernity in an age of global capitalism. European Journal of Social Theory, 6 (3): 275-292 Gaonkar, D. P. (1999) On Alternative Modernities. Public Culture, 11(1): 1-18. Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge, UK: Polity. Goodson, I. F. and Sikes, P. (2001). Life history research in educational settings: Learning from lives. Buckingham: Open University Press Mannheim, K. (1952/1923) The problem of generations’. In Mannheim, K. (Eds.) Essays on the sociology of knowledge. London: RKP Nielsen, H. B. and Rudberg, M. (2006) Moderne jenter: Tre generasjoner på vei. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget. Ridgeway, C. L. (2009) Framed before we know it: How Gender shapes social relations. Gender & Society, 23 (2): 145-160. Robertson, R. (1995). Glocalization. Time-space and homogeneity-heterogeneity. In M. Featherstone, S. Lash, & R. Robertson (Eds.), Global modernities (pp. 25-44). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Rose, N. (1996a). Authority and the genealogy of the subject. In P. Heelas, S, Lash, and P. Morris (Eds.), Detraditionalization: Critical reflections on authority and identity (pp. 294-327). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. Rose, N. (1996b). Identity, genealogy, history. In S. Hall and P. Du Gay, (Eds.), Questions of cultural identity (pp. 128-50). London: Sage Publications.
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