Youth transitions and generations: baby-boomers and millennials
University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal
The youth transitions paradigm is a very useful conceptual tool to observe and understand social change in late modern western societies. However, there is a common tendency to ‘pack’ youth transitions from education to work in a single interpretative fashion – from the smooth and quick transitions of the baby-boomers to the long and sinuous transitions of the millennials – independently of strategic structural factors emerging from context and time.
This proposal aims to analyse the pattern of change in youth transitions in Portugal, a country which contemporary history is clearly detached from the path threaded by the majority of its partner-States in Western Europe, due to an extraordinary long autocratic rule, a fragile economy and an almost incipient Welfare State. The significantly different stage of depart of the Portuguese economy and society does not mean, however, that the pattern of change in youth transitions has been markedly different, although its effects and consequences have been probably steeper and harder for young people.
This process of change will be observed in this proposal through the analysis of a group of historical statistical series concerning several relevant indicators for youth transitions, namely on the one operated from education to work. This quantitative account will be afterwards complemented by a qualitative analysis of the young people’s representations of this changing pattern of transition from school to work between the baby-boomers and the millennials generations, through the thematic content analysis of 56 interviews undertaken in the fieldwork of the research project MYPLACE (Seventh Framework Programme).
Between creative class and precariat. Individual career strategies in a (un)certain city. A case study of Lodz, Poland.
University of Lodz, Poland
The aim of the paper is to present the empirical results of a study conducted at "OFF Piotrkowska" in Lodz, Poland. The second largest Polish city, and–crucially–a postindustrial one, Lodz is plagued with a high rate of unemployment and low wages, especially among the young. Like many other Polish cities, Lodz has embraced the idea of the creative class. Nowhere is it more apparent than at "OFF Piotrkowska", an old postindustrial space adapted and designed by the developer and municipal authorities for creative industries. Its primary goal was to rebrand Lodz as a creative city through the promotion of cultural projects, venues and output, and to boost local entrepreneurship by blending business, creative industries and culture. "OFF Piotrkowska" (named after the city’s main street) provides the space for this very synthesis. This is a space where culture interacts with the economy, work with the private sphere. It is a peculiar ecosystem that uses human creativity and turns it into economic value. On the other hand, this place provides employment for a young service class, which is increasingly joining the ranks of the precariat. This combination of the precariat and the creative class is not accidental. I assume that both of these categories are the products of the neoliberal turn.
In my presentation, I would like to present some opinions, evaluations, and the consequences of this state of affairs for the careers of the young residents of Lodz. Can flexible jobs make or break professional careers? Do flexible forms of employment stimulate the development of the creative class, or rather boost the precariat? What strategies do they adopt in their professional and personal lives?
Retail shift workers: the times and rhythms of working with customers. Two European case studies.
University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
The aim of this research is to understand the perceptions and representations of young retail shift workers (RSWs) about times and rhythms of working with customers. The research case studies are two European shopping streets: Oxford Street in London, United Kingdom, and Corso Buenos Aires in Milan, Italy. The research methods are observation (6 months in each case), interviews, focus groups.
In the last years flexible schedules have grown in Europe, in particular in the service sector. Italy is a paradigmatic example: here shop openings are fully deregulated. The contemporary age is characterized by globalization, automatization and delocalization of industrial production. However, some working activities cannot be delocalized or automatized: working with customers face-to-face, the so called emotional labour (Hochschild 1983) in fast food restaurants (Leidner 1993, Gould 2010), hotels (Scherman 2011) and shops. There is a specific kind of alienation linked to the emotional labour.
Furthermore, this study allows us to observe a process of contraction of times and rhythms in urban contexts, that I call "immediatization". Social acceleration and immediacy (Rosa 2004, Tomlinson 2007), the demand of instant satisfaction by customers and the phenomenon of consumerism as commodity fetishism (Marx 1867, Marcuse 1964, Bauman 2000) have consequences on the pace of work, as well as on the productive processes. The economic system of today is called Fast Capitalism, clothing companies are called Fast Fashion. The young RSWs I interviewed are influenced by these processes: they experience a condition of alienation, lack of control and powerlessness both over their emotions and over their own time, especially their "reflective time", time to think about themselves (Nowotny 1983), necessary to plan their lives as young adults.
‘A question of time’: school-to-work patterns and effects of a cohort of young people born in 1990
University of Lisbon, Portugal
Framed by a longitudinal and life course perspective, the aims of this paper are to identify and explain differentiated patterns of school and work paths, as well as to explore the role of different levels and types of education on youngsters’ work integration, quality and expectations. We draw on data from a longitudinal study (EPITeen) of youngsters born in 1990 in Oporto, Portugal, that were surveyed at age 13 (n=2160), 17 (n=2512), 21 (n=1761) and 24 (n=1092). Additionally, qualitative interviews collected at age 24 will be used as illustrations.
Ages 21 to 24 are a privileged period to assess changes in school and work spheres: at 21 years old most of these youngsters were still studying (66%), but at 24, the school-work situation reverts and most (65%) are not: 58% are working and 13% are unemployed or looking for a job. Using this information on their school and work paths, and taking into account their timing, duration, sequence and reversibility aspects, we were able to define differentiated school-to-work trajectories: Sequenced, Early, Overlapping, and Yet to come. Moreover, we found that these trajectories are distinctively socially characterised by structural and family factors. Considering the relationship between educational levels and several work dimensions at 21 and 24, we concluded that taking in account these different times can help enlighten these effects.
These findings stress, on one hand, the importance of time as an analytical tool; and on the other, the coexistence of competing perspectives of the life course and transitions to adulthood.