Call for articles: “Between Cultures and Transitions: Gender Perspectiv es in Youth Studies”



Call for articles

Between Cultures and Transitions: Gender Perspectives in Youth Studies

Edited by: Sebastiano Benasso (University of Genoa), Helena Helve (University of Tampere) and Maurizio Merico (University of Salerno).



Since the early stages of their development, Youth Studies have gained an increasingly autonomous position in social sciences, especially at an international level. Starting from the seminal researches in the early 1900s and their further systematization in the heterogeneous production of the Chicago School of Sociology, Youth Studies have gradually extended their areas of interest, which at the beginning was mainly focused on deviance (see, for instance, Cohen, 1955; Matza, 1957; Cloward & Ohlin, 1960). Within this frame, starting from the 1970s, there has been a sequence and an overlay of different theoretical and methodological stances. Alternatively, these diverse approaches emphasised the distinctive features of the youth cultural models, the intergenerational conflict, the settling of youth countercultures and their connotations in terms of antagonism and rebellion, up to the elaboration of the Birmingham School, based on the concept of youth subcultures (Brake, 1985; Cristofori, 1997; Merico, 2004; Feixa, 2006; Dimitriadis, 2008). Since the 1980s, research on youth and youth cultures has experienced a significant growth, also broadening their scopes of analysis. Such change was further fostered by the emergence of an interdisciplinary approach and an increasing attention to the multiple youth conditions, backgrounds and paths.

Subsequently, two main “tracks” were developed, focusing, on the one hand, on the cultural dimension and, on the other, on transition(s) (Woodman 2015). In addition, the relevance traditionally given to the dimension of class and biographical data was paired with the enhancing of territorial, ethnic, generational and gender positioning, with the latter particularly relevant to this Call (Lesko & Talburt, 2012; Furlong, 2013; Cieslik & Simpson, 2013; Côté, 2014; Kelly & Kamp, 2015). Below is a description of how gender has been approached both from the cultural point of view and that of Transition Studies.

By all means, as observed in other areas of research, gender has struggled to receive specific attention within the frame of Youth Cultures Studies (Brake, 1985; Bianchi, 1988; Griffin, 1993). Moreover, analysis of youth subcultures has often favoured the male component, “naturalizing” an almost exclusive overlap between subcultural styles as a whole and the specificity of the masculine ones (McRobbie 1991). As a consequence, little attention was given to feminine styles, thus producing a certain opacity in the gaze of social sciences. Such a restriction influenced a significant part of the scientific debate on youth cultures, and was questioned almost exclusively by feminist analyses (e.g. McRobbie and Garber, 1976; McRobbie, 1978; Gilligan et al., 1990; Walkerdine, 1990; Hey, 1997; concerning the critical and interdisciplinary tradition of Girls’ Studies, e.g. Lipkin, 2009). However, even these latter researches (also in connection with their micro–ethnographical approach) have been typically carried out making a distinction between the processes of construction of femininity and masculinity at a young age. A holistic perspective capable of understanding and more deeply representing the dialogical and negotiated relation among genders (Nayak & Kehily, 2008) was thus unattained. Recently, though, an increasing attention to the construction of genders has been given, and more specifically to gender (and gendered) practices and to everyday life as a field of juxtaposition and mutual trespassing among
the supposed male and female domains (McRobbie, 2000; Nayak & Kehily, 2008; Jones, 2009; Griffin, 2010; Wyn & Cahill, 2015).

Concerning the second “twin track” (Woodman 2015) in Youth Studies, namely Transition Studies, the youth dimension was mainly approached from a life course perspective, by means of quantitative analysis and/or longitudinal research. Specific attention was given to transitions to adulthood, in particular to the school-to-work transitions and mobilities in early professional trajectories. Starting from the first researches in this context, Transition Studies have maintained a constant attention to the  gender dimension, although this was considered as one of the structural variables involved (also in predictive terms) in the production and reproduction of inequalities, thus lacking, in many cases, the possibility of analysing youth agency. Such an approach has often fostered normative visions of the life course, therefore conveying value judgments on the “incomplete”, “interrupted”, “misleading” transitions. The definition and negotiation of new biographical patterns were thus neglected as a process of critical rereading of the “age norms” (Settersten 1998), even in relation to gender. Specimens in this sense are the processes of negotiation of “new” parenthoods which, overstepping the standardised life course readings, may be interpreted as a product of the intersection between cultural models tied to the representations of adulthood and genders on the one hand, and structural factors such as class and ethnicity on the other.

Knowledge capable of considering both individual agency and its structural contexts is required in order to overcome this epistemological and methodological rigidity. In this respect, as proposed by Furlong, Woodman & Wyn (2011), a possible attempt of “reconciliation” may be the application of the analytical perspective of “social generation”. Drawing from the conceptualization of generations introduced by Mannheim, this approach – which in turn is certainly not exempt from criticism (France & Roberts, 2014) – indeed concerns the ways and the meanings through which the agebased experience of the world is determined by social conditions. Also concerning gender-based dynamics, therefore, that of the social generation seems to be a perspective to be explored, in order to carry out analyses that can take into account the structural frame and, at the same time, the dialogical and subjective dimensions which produce (or hinder) change in gender order.

Through the essays collected in this issue of the Journal, our aim is to make a contribution in terms of application of the gender perspective as a dimension through which to overcome the “traditional” boundaries between the strands of cultural and transitional Youth Studies.

On the basis of the reflections developed so far, this issue of the Journal focuses, first, on the way through which the gender dimension has been approached within the Youth Studies tradition and, second, on the contribution of the gender perspective to contemporary research on young people, youth cultures, life courses and generations.

Scholars are invited to submit articles which provide insights into this frame. In particular, we encourage essays which, by and from a gender perspective:
– critically reconsider “classical” approach(es) to the analysis of youth cultures;
– critically discuss methodological approach(es) and interpretative categories drawn from the research “traditions” on youth cultures;
– explore one (or more) dimension(s) of contemporary youth cultures, with particular emphasis on cultural models, consumption patterns and lifestyles;
– explore and/or critically question the debate about subcultures, post-subcultures, neo-tribes and scenes;
– illustrate emerging theoretical interpretation and analytical approaches in the field of Youth Studies;
– analyse the gender dimension in the processes of normative socialization and youth deviance;
– analyse, from a de-constructivist perspective, mainstream discourses concerning youth and gender (e.g. analysis of media representations of young people; analysis of the representations of youth fostered by youth policies);
– broaden the scope of social generations studies, even in terms of intergenerational relationships and negotiating processes (e.g. intersection of generational and gender dimensions; generationing practices; inequality and/or intergenerational solidarity);
– revisit, always adopting a gender perspective, studies on transitions integrating them with the tradition of youth cultures studies, overcoming the stereotyping interpretations of standardized life courses (e.g. biographical patterns; “new” life stages;  transition regimes).

Papers should be between 5000 and 8000 words (excluding bibliography).
Languages: English, Italian.
Please follow the instructions gathered in the Author’s guidelines. Contributions should be accompanied by: a brief abstract (maximum length: 150 words); some keywords (from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 5).
Abstract and keywords should both be in English. All texts must be transmitted in a format compatible with Windows (.doc or .rtf), following the instructions provided by the Peer Review Process. Please see the Journal’s Author’s guidelines.

Contributions must be sent by 31st October 2017.

Timetable1 for the publishing process:
1. period May 2017 / October 2017 – articles proposal
2. period November 2017 / January 2018 – double blind peer review
3. period January 2018 / February 2018 – revising of the articles according to the reviewers’ comments
4. period March 2018 / April 2018 – final editing
5. May 2018 – publishing

Call for articles_AG_13-1