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Theorising Young People’s Aspirations in a Global Context: An Interdisciplinary Conference
Brunel University London
Date: 26 and 27 March 2018

This interdisciplinary two-day conference aims to advance conceptual understanding of how young people form, experience and deploy aspiration; the global institutions and processes that shape young people’s aspirations; and the outcomes of aspiration for young people and for wider society.

Recent empirical research from diverse contexts worldwide has reported on the expressed desires of young people to “become someone.” Meanwhile, global institutions and national governments represent aspiration as a key to understanding inequality and a motivating force that can inspire social change. Aspiration is understood to play a key role in shaping young people’s engagement with education, politics and migration. Yet despite the burgeoning attention to aspiration in both research and policy, its theorisation remains relatively neglected.

We welcome papers that address the theorisation of young people’s aspirations. These may consider, but need not be confined to, the following themes:

Aspiration as an instrumental discourse: How is aspiration deployed as a tool of neoliberal governmentality? Is aspiration a prerequisite for social change? How do young people mobilise aspiration to project virtuous identities?

Aspiration as an orientation to the future: What are the limits of aspiration an analytical concept? Does it shed valuable light on youth temporalities? How does it relate to other modes of orienting to the future such as hope, expectation, or desire?

Aspiration as produced and productive: How do dominant norms shape aspiration? What roles are played by affect and emotion? How do aspirations relate to individual and collective agency?

Knowing young people’s aspirations: How meaningful are speech-based research methods for understanding young people’s aspirations? What forms of research might give access to aspects of aspiration that are inarticulable? What do different disciplinary perspectives have to offer?

For more information:

Abstract submission

Please submit titles and abstracts (200 words max), along with names and affiliations of authors, to by Friday, 9 February.

CFP – Theorising Young People’s Aspirations in a Global Context: An Interdisciplinary Conference