GIGA Focus International Edition English

Youth as a Seismograph for Societal Problems

GIGA Focus | International Edition English | Number 01 |

Over the course of the last two years, 2011 and 2012, youths around the world have protested in a variety of contexts and forms. More than the various manifestations of their protests – from political upheaval in Tunisia or Chile to violence in Syria – it is youths’ worries about their own place in society that unify them.

Analysis
Even in the most divergent societies, youth are perceived as a problem group, despite the fact that a consistent definition of what constitutes youth has been absent to date. To base such a definition exclusively on age would be misleading: other factors, for example, social position, would remain unconsidered. No longer children but not yet part of the circle of adults, youths find themselves both physically and socially in a phase of transition. For very different reasons, they rebel against established orders and authorities and question existing boundaries and conventions. However, even under very difficult political and economic conditions, youths only head onto the streets en masse when they see no prospects for the transition into adult life. The forms their protests take reveal fundamental societal processes and problems.

  • Young people grow up with expectations about the transition into adult life that, because of rapid social change, can now scarcely be realized.

  • The lifeworlds of youths and their problems with the entry into adult life are, despite all the differences, comparable worldwide.

  • The mobilization of youths and the nature of their protests are closely connected with the socialization processes and types of cohesion within a society.

  • Whether and how youth are able to complete central transitions into adult life can serve as an early warning indicator of key societal problems.

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Suggested Citation Style

Kurtenbach, Sabine (2013), Youth as a Seismograph for Societal Problems, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 01, urn:nbn:de:0168-ssoar-328037

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The GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

General Editor GIGA Focus Series: Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach

Acting Director of the GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies
General Editor GIGA Focus
Editor GIGA Focus Global

Prof. Dr. Sabine Kurtenbach is a political scientist, acting director of the GIGA Institute of Latin American Studies, and honorary professor at Philipps University Marburg. She researches peace, conflict, and violence with a regional focus on Latin America and beyond.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Sabine Kurtenbach / Angelika Rettberg

War Economies and post-war crime

London: Routledge Francis and Taylor Group, forthcoming

Sabine Kurtenbach

The limits of peace in Latin America

Peacebuilding, 7, 2019, 3, 283-296

Sabine Kurtenbach

Venezuela – Elections Alone Are Not Enough

GIGA Focus Latin America, 01/2019

Sabine Kurtenbach

Judicial Reform – A Neglected Dimension of SSR in El Salvador

Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, 13, 2019, 1, 57-74

Sabine Kurtenbach / Adam Scharpf

The Return of the Military

GIGA Focus Latin America, 07/2018