When Concepts Cross Borders
Judging from the 270 presentations made by more than 350 researchers attending the Journal of Youth Studies Conference, ‘Contemporary Youth, Contemporary Risk’ held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in March 2015, the risks facing contemporary youth are both many and diverse. Youth across the world are struggling with the risk of unemployment, economic insecurity and prolonged transitions to adulthood. At the conference it was demonstrated that these risks can fruitfully be conceptualized in many different ways, drawing on both theoretical understandings focusing on the continued relevance of social class and structural inequalities, as well as by introducing concepts more focused on change and new theoretical perspectives on the experiences of young people. Despite this diversity, however, three concepts in particular struck us as reappearing again and again across keynote talks, plenary discussions and paper sessions: neo-liberalism, aspirations and ‘NEET’ (Not in Education, Employment or Training). As Danish youth researchers positioned outside the British context we will in this piece reflect on these concepts and their central role in the field of youth studies as enacted at the conference.
Signe Ravn (Danish National Centre for Social Research) and Tea Bengtsson (University of Copenhagen): When Concepts Cross Borders