The Miscommunication of Youth and Adults: Miscommunicated Youth

Anu-Hanna Anttila, Kristiina Kuussaari & Tiina Puhakka (ed.)

Yearbook of Living Conditions of the Youth 2010

(In Finnish: Ohipuhuttu nuoruus )

Abstracts of the Articles

Piritta Malinen: Graffiti – Work of Art or Criminal Offence
Kirsi Pohjola & Kimmo Jokinen: Young Men at the Border of Real and Virtual Worlds
Vera Schoultz: Young People’s Political Activity and Its Turning Point
Kaisa Huttunen, Minna Autio & Teija Strand: Battle between Generations for Ideals of Consumption
Marja Peltola & Veronika Honkasalo: Multicultural Families as Generational Relationships and Targets of Control
Sakari Ahola & Loretta Galli: Dimensions of Exclusion Discourse among Young School Drop -Outs and Their Tutors
Anna-Maija Niemi: Work and Working Life in the Discourse of Young Vocational Students and Their Tutors
Anu Gretschel: Words and Actions in Discussions between Municipal Decision Makers and Young People

Graffiti – Work of Art or Criminal Offence

Piritta Malinen

In discourse about graffiti, people talk past each other on many levels; Graffiti can be explored as a form of youth hip hop subculture, as a counterculture commenting on space utilization rights, as a form of art, or as illegal activity that encroaches on other people’s property. Debaters do not talk past each other only because of a generation gap between young people and adults; there is a more general underlying difficulty of understanding the point of view of the other party. Alienating discourse about graffiti takes place not only between its opponents and advocates, but also inside the graffiti culture.

The article explores the ways of talking past each other in the discourse of the graffiti phenomenon and deliberates on the possible effects of the debate on graffiti culture. The reference material consists of journalistic articles and internet discussions on graffiti. These are mirrored against interview material collected in a study concerning the interaction between graffiti culture and visual arts education, as well as literature on graffiti.

Keywords: graffiti, scribble, graffiti art, graffiti culture, graffiti war

Young men at the border of real and virtual worlds

Kirsi Pohjola & Kimmo Jokinen

It is difficult to present an unambiguous interpretation of young men’s virtual life. It contains elements that can be considered as play, gaming, having fun, passing time, and even child-like behaviour. Just as well, virtual life can be seen as a way of spending time together and deliberating the meaningfulness of life. Its characteristics also include constant ironising of issues, and there is a lot of intertextuality involved. Hence, it is not easy to interpret virtual life without often resorting to the expression ‘both...and’.

The article observes young men who spend most of their time awake online on chat channels. Although the internet and chat channels are a normal part of life, they also rouse questions: Is it about real or artificial life, generations talking past each other, working on one’s identity, or what is it about? The reference material of the article consists of chat channel discussions.

Keywords: generation, virtual, internet, normal biography, real and virtual life

Young People’s Political Activity and Its Turning Point

Vera Schoultz

Young people’s political activity and political values significantly differ from those of elder citizens. Furthermore, the buttresses of modern representative democracy, including voting, party activity and positions of trust, do not inspire the youth either. Among political researchers and policy makers, for example, this rouses concern about the future of democracy: What will happen if young people really alienate themselves from the key workings of democracy? The article studies the ways in which Finnish people from different age groups take part in the decision making process. The article also deliberates the relationship between the established political system and young people’s political activity. Do young people have a different perception about workable politics than the older generations, and if so, are political leaders able to interpret it correctly? Are young people really uninterested in politics, or is this perception a consequence of a different political language between young people and political leaders?

Keywords: influence, political activity, stealth democracy, counter democracy, young people

Battle between Generations for Ideals of Consumption

Kaisa Huttunen, Minna Autio & Teija Strand 

In Finland, there is a long history behind having a disapproving attitude towards consumption. In particular, the consumption habits of young people have been regarded wasteful, and the way that young people spend money has roused concern among the adult society. Older generations have also disapproved of the consumption habits of generations younger than them. Generation after generation, young people have challenged the ideals of consumption sustained in the adult society, and they have created and adapted new trends of consumer culture. The article studies the battle between generations for the correct and acceptable form of consumerism. It poses a question, whether the role of an irresponsible consumer really is traditionally offered by adults to young people. The subject is approached from the angles of three different sets of qualitative research material that help reviewing past and present consumption ideals.

Keywords: age group, generation, biography, consumption, consumerism

Multicultural Families as Generational Relationships and Targets of Control

Marja Peltola & Veronika Honkasalo

Depictions of multicultural families are often narrow and problem-centered. In professional discourse, families are often defined as risks or threats, but for many young people, families are essential sources of positive feelings and resources. The article examines the status of family in the lives of young people with multi-cultural backgrounds. The approach of the subject is based on two different angles: interviews of professionals who work with young people, and interviews of young people with immigrant backgrounds. Additionally, the article discusses the wider societal context in which multi-cultural families are defined, described and controlled. It also deliberates how these families should be involved in youth research discourse.

Keywords: family, multi-culturalism, young people

Dimensions of Exclusion Discourse among Young School Drop -Outs and Their Tutors

Sakari Ahola & Loretta Galli

In modern society, there is great concern about children and young people who are in danger of social exclusion. Special attention has been paid to school drop-outs, who are left without a student place after comprehensive school, or who interrupt their second-degree studies. However, in many cases, the young people whom adults consider excluded and being in need of urgent help, do not experience their situation in such a way. On the other hand, the problems of young people are very concrete and can have far-reaching effects. There are several problems related to the concept of exclusion, such as its strong normative and discursive nature that enables the government to impose control upon people who are labelled as excluded. The article studies the views of young people without a student place in any degree institute, and of their tutors, on being dropped out of school. It concentrates specifically on defining the underlying problems of being dropped out, and on views related to tutoring and support. The reference material consists of theme interviews among young people and their tutors.

Keywords: exclusion, dropping out of school, tutoring

Work and Working Life in the Discourse of Young Vocational Students and Their Tutors

Anna-Maija Niemi

Work and working life are a great part of vocational basic degree curricula and the everyday life of vocational colleges. In conversations about work and learning a profession, young people and adults sometimes talk past each other. The article studies the different ways in which young, second degree vocational college students and their adult tutors talk about work, working life and studying practices. What kind of meanings do they give to work as part of the everyday life of vocational studies? How do they talk about studying in relation to ‘real’ work? The study focuses on differences and similarities between the manners of speaking, and the ways that the different parties talk past each other at the crossing points of conversation. The reference material consists of group and individual interviews of students and staff, as well as notes of observation.

Keywords: work, working life, citizenship, ethnographic study, vocational education, machine and metal industry, talking past each other, manner of speaking, discourse

Words and Actions in Discussions between Municipal Decision Makers and Young People

Anu Gretschel

Finnish municipalities organise discussions between young people and decision makers to an increasing extent. Through these meetings, young people have an opportunity to influence the development of municipal services. At the same time, these discussions offer a venue for young people to hear more about current themes, and to influence matters. The article studies whether municipal decision makers and young people talk past each other in these discussions. The reference material consists of discussions between young people and decision makers, which were organised in 18 municipalities to involve young people in evaluating and developing municipal services. During the discussions, decision makers provided answers to young people’s questions, opinions and suggestions. The decision makers could reinforce or contradict young people’s needs to develop certain issues. In the speech of the decision makers, it was also possible to detect speech acts that could later lead to the development of a municipal decision making system in which young people have an active role. As part of these speech acts, decision makers often expressed criticism towards the current, adultbased decision making system. Decision makers could also suggest new methods of better taking into account young people’s views in the future. If the parties are able to avoid talking past each other, the meetings between young people and decision makers can at their best bring many new elements to the development of municipal organisation.

Keywords: young people, municipality, decision makers, decision-making, evaluation, discussion, involvement