Pääpuhujat - Keynote speakers

(Steven Threadgold below)

Ann Phoenix 

Ann Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial studies at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, Department of Social Science, UCL Institute of Education and a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Academy of Social Sciences. She is on the Nuffield Foundation Trust Board. Her research is mainly about social identities and the ways in which psychological experiences and social processes are linked and intersectional. It includes work on racialised and gendered identities and experiences; mixed-parentage, masculinities, consumption, young people and their parents, the transition to motherhood, families, migration and transnational families. 

Colliding sociostructural and biographical turning points: Young people, intersectionality and contingent futures

Abstract: The unexpected transformational conjunctions of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, the resurgence of Black Lives Matter following the videorecorded murder of Gorge Floyd and intergenerational activism on climate change have all made major social inequalities painfully evident. Each has led to calls for social justice across divisions of nation, racialisation, ethnicization, gender, social class and generation and been viewed as catalysts for much-needed change that constitutes social and personal turning points. It remains to be seen, however, what the implications of these turning points are for young people and how commonalities and differences will be played out for young people. This talk considers issues that are central to engaging with turning points in young people’s lives.

The theorisation of ‘turning points’ within the life course theory popularised by Glen Elder and Tamara Hareven in the1970s makes clear that individual and family lives and trajectories are inextricably linked to cultural and historical contexts. As a result, they are diverse and dynamic (as well as having continuities), with relationality and constrained agency central to different cohorts. This paper draws upon life course theory to examine the ways in which young people are currently faced with turning points that are inextricably linked with social inequalities and intersectionality. While young people are frequently theorised as having opportunities to change the direction of their lives at various points in their life course, the linking of the sociostructural and personal that life course theory identifies indicates that agency is constrained. Turning points may, therefore, be positive and/or negative in complex ways.

The paper draws on examples from a range of different research projects and some of the testimonies from young people that have marked this period of crisis and change. It argues that sociostructural and biographical turning points have collided in ways that have intensified generational differences and made for uncertainties about the future that bring together politics, emotions, opportunities and hope as well as fears, limitations, and discomfort in dealing with change. These issues illuminate the fruitfulness of approaches that currently argue for viewing ontology as relational, for disrupting binaries between personal and social and understanding differences between young people.


Steven Threadgold 

Steven Threadgold is Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Newcastle. His research focuses on youth and class, with particular interests in unequal and alternate work and career trajectories; underground and independent creative scenes; and cultural formations of taste. Steve is the co-director of the Newcastle Youth Studies Network, an Associate Editor of Journal of Youth Studies, and on the Editorial Boards of The Sociological Review and Journal of Applied Youth Studies. His latest book is Bourdieu and Affect: Towards a Theory of Affective Affinities (Bristol University Press). Youth, Class and Everyday Struggles (Routledge) won the 2020 Raewyn Connell Prize for best first book in Australian sociology. Steve’s current research projects are on online cultural taste communities called ‘Dank Distinction and Homologies of Snark’; the Australian Research Council funded ‘Young Hospitality Workers and Value Creation in the Service Economy’ investigating the immaterial forms of labour young people perform to create value in the night-time economy; and the FEDUA funded research program ‘Regional youth in precarious times: Work, wellbeing and debt’. 

Steven Threadgold 

Affective affinities and the everyday lives of young people

Abstract: It is at the level of young people’s day-to-day lives and in the field of representation where class emerges through a spectrum between affective affinities and affective violence. The practices, performativity and choices demanded upon entering different social situations engender processes of reflexivity and ambivalence that may be experienced as turning points, but more mundanely, are where class relationalities are both reinscribed and resisted. Drawing on several projects, this presentation brings together two strands of my research programme on figures of youth and affective class relations. Theoretically, I develop a Bourdieusian perspective towards considerations of affect, and add affective elements to Bourdieu, to establish affective affinities as a concept for considering the looming nature of class and how it haunts social spaces. The emotionality of class, how it is made and remade in everyday encounters, shows how class is not always experienced as a static material relation, but also expressed in the imminent emotional experiences that are doxically immanent in trajectories through social spaces, institutions and scenes. Thinking with affective affinities problematises concepts such as choice and agency that have been popular in youth studies to analyse transitions and cultural practices. The turning points represented by events such as COVID, climate change, BLM, etc. provide an opportunity for youth researchers to orient themselves differently to prioritise young people’s lived experiences, desires and aspirations to push back politically and publicly against the normative governmentalised figures - such as homo economicus, the cultural dupe, the folk devil and the inspirational meritocrat - that dominate the representation of youth.