Panel K.09 — Young people’s experiences and lives: embodying, experiencing, and challenging neoliberal policies and discourses

Convenors Aina Tarabini (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain); Nicola Ingram (University College Cork)

Keywords youth, neoliberalism, success, social mobility, social reproduction, experiences


The dominant western neoliberal hegemony conceives young people as rational, instrumental, unattached, and self-responsible human beings. On the basis of this, their educational failure or success, their social mobility and their broader life trajectories are framed in terms of personal merit and effort (Ingram, 2023; Tarabini, et al., 2023). Additionally, neoliberal discourses and policies emphasise happiness and self-realisation as the moral imperative of any authentic life project (Cabanas & Illouz, 2019). The ideal neoliberal self is enterprising, flexible, and self-centred (Brunila, 2012), and the work on “identity” and “authenticity” is emphasized in the pursuit of a good life (James, et al, 2020; Vieira et al., 2013). These moral prescriptions are especially harmful for the most disadvantaged social groups -in terms of gender, migration, ethnicity, and social class- making them individually responsible for their own trajectories and, specifically, for their own failures (Atkins, 2017). In this context, the aim of this panel is to provide insights into the ways in which young people embody, experience, and challenge the neoliberal rhetoric and the associated concepts of “educational success”, “aspiration”, “vocation”, “social mobility” and “choice” -among other- in their daily practices, experiences, and lives. We welcome abstracts that dig into the diversity of young people’s experiences and unpack their narratives in relation to dominant policy frameworks. We are especially interested in exploring the material, symbolic and affective implications of the dominant framings of “success”, exploring the way in which young people “react” to these framing, embody its multiple meanings and realisations, and also contest them both through active means of resistance and through practical ways of being that are not limited to the myth of acceptable and normative pathways projected by the individualistic neoliberal rhetoric.


Guidelines and abstracts submission