Adnan Selimović, Doctoral Candidate, Social and Political Thought, York University, Toronto
Popular psycho-social theories of youth culture and empowerment readily base the breadth of their conception of young subjectivities on the stability of the parent-society. The orienting question for my paper is: how will we think of youth and their subject position when the social as a stable source of meaning is no longer trustworthy of setting the standards; and where do we turn for directive when we become existentially and psycho-politically critical of socializing youth to become “productive” members of consumer societies? Balkan youth, who grew up during the 1990s’ years of hyperinflation, isolation, and war, present a fitting case towards answering these questions in a way that sheds light on the contemporary youth experience in North America. Psycho-socially speaking there is a shared generational experience for youth born in the Balkans and North America during the last two decades: increasing consumer-technology incursion into their socialization, coupling of learning about the social with the consumer-simulation of sociality, earlier and earlier disciplined alienation from parents and initial communities, violent intrusions of advanced capitalism (psychological and social), ambiguity of the capacity of representative democratic politics to enact any sort of visible changes, as well as deteriorating conditions of the parental political-economic conditions. Through the works of Emmanual Levinas, Lee Edelman, Wilfred Bion and Herbert Marcuse (Lukacs, Bakhtin, Aichhorn and Reich to name a few of the other interlocutors), I would like to think about the sense of subjectivity that young people are cultivating in societies that are felt to be collapsing (one structurally, and the other internally), and more importantly, the sense of radical possibilities for liberation that they are opening up in light of the crumbling structures once thought permanent.
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