Is a ‘youthquake’ really sweeping the world? In the context of rapid social change, individualisation, economic precarity and globalisation, the transition to adulthood for youth around the world is becoming increasingly tenuous (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2008, p.5) Young people are told to focus on the ‘self’, to develop skills such as resilience and hard work to achieve social mobility despite empirical research demonstrating that markers of the ‘successful adult’ are increasingly diﬃcult to obtain (Jeﬀrey 2012, p. 498). As a result, youth are turning to in social and political change to improve these conditions and to find alternatives. The Oxford Dictionary defines ‘youthquake as a significant cultural, political or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people’ and this essay will argue that a youthquake is in fact taking place around the world (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 2019). However, I will contend that instead of existing within the context of formal, institutional politics, this ‘youthquake’ is constituted of informal, ‘postmodern’ forms of social, political and cultural change. Firstly, I argue that youth are turning to civil movements and ‘direct action’ to achieve social and political change due to a general distrust of traditional political structures. Secondly, I assert that individualised, micro-level, everyday actions are becoming common forms of social and political change which mimics the current neoliberal context. Thirdly, I explore the reflexive ‘entrepreneurial’ approach that some disadvantaged youth are engaging in to achieve social mobility and developmental change in their communities. Lastly, I suggest that youth social movements are increasingly unique and specific to the their demographic, as cultural forms are becoming popular forms of social and political action. Overall, I seek to demonstrate that despite dominant discourses positioning youth as politically inactive and apathetic, youth around the world are engaging in significant cultural, political and social change that this is merely deviating from normative conceptions of what change should look like (Jeﬀrey 2011, p. 149). Youth are increasingly rejecting formal, institutionalised politics for alternative civil movements and ‘direct action’ which seeks to create change in a post-modern, fluid manner (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2008, p .6). Research has shown that American 18-25 year olds have historically been less likely than their elders to vote, join political parties and even read mainstream newspapers, however this trend is most prominent today (Levine 2007). As a result, dominated discourses have painted youth as increasingly disengaged, apathetic and inactive in politics (Skelton 2010, p. 145). This view, however, only measures the participation of youth in traditional, formal institutionalised politics, such as voting and joining political parties, and thus fails to capture the whole picture of youth political engagement (Skelton 2010, p. 145-147). In actuality, young people are actively seeking political change but practicing their beliefs in unconventional ways through civil disobedience and public demonstrations, especially in the context of the digital revolution, technological advancements and social media sites which create spaces to share diﬀering opinions and allow for the ability to network and organise political mobilisation (Flanagan 2009, p. 298). A prime example of this ‘modern’ and ‘direct’ form of political engagement is the 2014 Umbrella movement in Hong Kong. As Mannheim asserts, a generation does not only describe people of the same age group but those with a common, ideological destiny and worldview, otherwise known as ‘generational consciousness’ (Ku 2019, p. 112). In the case of Hong Kong, the younger generation were united by their shared vision of representational democracy and anxiety over the political future of their city and sought to enact change through civil disobedience and protest (Ku 2019, p. 111). The nature and structure of their political action was characteristic of post-modern youth-led movements - decentralised leadership, use of social media sites to mobilise action and the espousing of broader social values rather than merely civic goals (Ku 2019, p. 123-124). Ultimately, Hong Kong youth sought to distinguish their political actions from those of the Occupy movement dominated by older individuals who were viewed as elitist and paternalistic (Ku 2019, p. 119). Hence, although dominant discourse may suggest otherwise, youth are engaging in social and political change in alternative, direct forms, such as civil disobedience based upon a shared generational consciousness, that are unique from the gerontocratic, traditional modes of political action. Additionally, in the current context of risk, economic precarity and individualisation, prominent social and political change is increasingly enacted on the everyday, micro, individual level (Skelton 2010, p. 148). Prevailing conditions of a decline in state welfare systems, economic rationalism and a focus on the ‘individual’ makes it increasingly diﬃcult for youth to achieve the transition from youth to adulthood marked by certain ‘markers’ such as full-time employment (Jeﬀrey 2010a, p. 496). This not only creates disenfranchisement with dominant state institutions and the government amongst youth, but also results in social change that mimics these conditions (Skelton 2010, p. 149). As Harris has asserted, contemporary studies on youth politics and citizenship has centred upon the ways in which individualisation has displaced collective identification and action (2009, p. 309). In this context, youth are engaging in personal and lifestyle issues at an everyday, micro level to enact change instead of participating in party-based, institutionalised, macro politics (Harris 2009, p. 304). Tracy Skelton named these individual practices ‘little p politics’ and they include everyday actions such as consumer boycotts, adopting certain lifestyles such as veganism (Skelton 2010, p. 145-149). Similar to the aforementioned youth practice of collective action, ‘little p politics’ also stem from a general distrust in the government and state institutions, which are seen as ineﬀective and not acting in the interests of youth (Lam-Knott 2019, p. 1). An example of micro-level social and political change is the action of youth in Hong Kong who are protesting against the dominant ‘brandscape’ or the inundation of retail centres in urban development. This ‘mall city’ landscape is not only an eyesore but a product of unequal power dynamics between civil society, the HK government and estate developers who have a significant monopoly over property development and the retail sector (Lam-Knott 2019, p. 2). Here, youth view the commercialisation of Hong Kong’s retail landscape and the diminishing of local, community businesses as a means of state control. In response to this, young people are seeking to enact social change by ‘re-claiming the city’ and using everyday consumption as a social and political tool. This includes boycotting mainstream brands, supporting independent businesses and publishing booklets celebrating Hong Kong’s local ‘siu dim’ (local shops and food establishments) (Lam-Knott 2019, p. 14). Although they may not be wholly eﬀective, these ‘micro’ individual actions demonstrate that youth are constantly engaging in social and political change on an everyday level - that every decision can be a ‘political’ one. Furthermore, some youth are rejecting normative and institutionalised forms of social mobility and taking an ‘entrepreneurial’ approach as a political statement and to create developmental social change in their communities (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2013, p. 1). In developing states where the speed of change is significantly faster than their developed counterparts, youth transitions are even more tenuous resulting in ‘waiting’ or ‘timepass’ (Jeﬀrey 2010b). This situation positions youth as simply out of options and thus places an impetus on them to reflexively create new ways to ‘survive’ and respond to this environment despite limited resources (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2013, p. 1). For example, youth are increasingly turning to ‘entrepreneurialism’ and opening small businesses to achieve social mobility and to contribute to their families and communities (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2013, p. 1-2). By engaging in this informal capitalist economy, young people are resisting both the prescribed, rocky transition to adulthood marked by higher education and full-time employment and the hierarchical nature of the gerontocratic society they live in which limits their agency. Instead they are ‘hustling’ to create opportunities for themselves which is both a risk management strategy and a political critique of gerontocratic structures and the state’s incompetencies (Thieme 2013, p. 389). Waste management is an example of this survival mechanism, where Kenyan youth are engaging in the informal sector for their own livelihoods, to provide a service to their communities and to capitalise oﬀ the state’s failings in this sector (Thieme 2013, p. 391). Similarly, in 2000, Zimbabwean youth sold pre-paid mobile SIM cards which became a form of ‘virtual currency’ in the context of the collapse of the Zimbabwean dollar (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2013, p. 1.) Although, these individualised and ‘entrepreneurial’ prices can also have negative implications because they transfer the burden of social mobility from the state to the individual resulting in the noninvestment in services, they also allow youth a degree of agency in an increasingly dire context which disadvantages and limits their agency (Jeﬀrey & Dyson 2013, p. 2). Hence, engaging in the informal capitalist economy is not only a mechanism of survival for youth but also a political and social act as it ‘assumes a defiance of surveillance and traditional authority’ by allowing youth to act as autonomous and profitable agents in a context where elders are overly authoritative and restrictive (Thieme 2013, p. 393). It also allows youth a degree of social mobility and agency despite poor economic conditions and limiting social structures (Jeﬀrey & Dyson2013, p. 1). Lastly, young people are increasingly engaging in ‘youth’ specific and even ‘subcultural’ means to create social and political change, which supports the idea of a unique and distinctive ‘youthquake’. Informal and cultural politics are increasingly central in youth social and political movements as certain subcultures and cultural practices are integral to youth shared identity (Jeﬀrey 2011, p. 148). Furthermore, the sharing of cultural means of social change is also aided by web-based and digital communication, as highlighted by the youth-led #Grime4corbyn online movement which shared political songs and other media voicing support for UK politician Jeremy Corbin (Starflinger & Evans 2019). Here, cultural practices and patterns of consumption historically specific to youth, such as rap and hip-hop music, is increasingly used as a mobilising, unifying and educative tool in youth-led social and political movements (Fredericks 2014, p. 130). Rap and hip-hop played a large role in the youth-led political opposition during the 2012 Senegalese presidential elections. Due to constant public scandals and controversy, economic stagnation and limits on democratic practices, Senegalese youth created an opposition movement to prevent the incumbent Present Abdoulaye Wade from regaining oﬃce (Fredericks 2014, p. 131). They did so by not only engaging in mass mobilisation, voter registration and public discourses but through the use of music. The latter was especially used by the youth-led political group YEM (Y’en a Marre) as a Lingua Franca for political resistance, to create a unique political identity and to encourage citizenship amongst youth (Fredericks 2014, p. 135-136). Furthermore and perhaps more significant is the space music creates for youth to have their voices heard, to transgress the rigid and limited boundaries of acceptable political speech in another gerontocratic context which tended to limit their political voice and agency (Fredericks 2014, p. 136). Similarly, in the UK rap music is used as a form of ‘identity politics’ which seeks to educate the wider population on the experiences of BrAsians or British Asian Muslim. Fun^Da^Mental is a particularly prominent group which promotes values of anti-racism, Islamic pride, race consciousness in a ‘militant yet inclusive’ manner (Swedenborg 2010, p. 1-2). Hence, youth social movements are taking increasingly unique and characteristic forms which utilises shared cultural practices to mobilise other like-minded youth to achieve real social and political change. Ultimately, this essay seeks to demonstrate that a youthquake is occurring around the world, especially in response to the prevailing context of risk, rapid change and economic insecurity. Although the actions of youth may not be characteristic of traditional and recognised forms of political and social action, they are still enacting significant change by reflexively adapting their practices to suit their context and cultural practices, to achieve what Mannheim pens a shared ‘generational consciousness’. Thus, youth are rejecting gerontocratic and formal institutionalised forms of politics in favour of civil movements and direct action aided by digital forms of communication. They are increasingly engaging in social and political change on the everyday, micro, individual level through ‘lifestyle’ practices and developing alternative forms of social mobility such as ‘entrepreneurialism’ in response to their lack of other avenues. Furthermore, young people are developing social and political practices that seek to achieve significant change by utilising distinctly ‘youthful’ cultural practices and media such as music. Ultimately, it would be naive and reductive to deny the existence of youth social, cultural and political action - as long as structural conditions diminish for young people the youthquake will continue on. References Flanagan, C 2009, ‘Young people’s civic engagement and political development’, A Furlong (ed), Handbook of Youth and Young Adulthood: New Perspectives and Agendas, Routledge, p. 293-300. Fredericks, R 2014, ‘The Old Man is Dead: Hip Hop and the Arts of Citizenship of Senegalese Youth’, Antipode, vol. 46, no. 1, p. 130-148. Jeﬀrey, C 2010a, ‘Geographies of children and youth: eroding maps of life’, Progress in Human Geography, vol. 34, no. 4, p. 496-505. Jeﬀrey, C 2010b, Timepass: Youth, Class, and the Politics of Waiting, Stanford University Press, CA. 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