Youth, Youthfulness and Value in the Immaterial Economy

Youth Research Seminar Series 2018

In this presentation by David Farrugia, University of Newcastle, the aim will be to develop the notion of the quality of ‘youthfulness’ as a dimension of labouring subjectivities and processes of value creation in contemporary service work. In the process, David will reflect on the specific value that youth and youthfulness offers to post-Fordist and immaterial economies. In this, David's project is critical of a longstanding emphasis on young people as capital accumulating subjects, which has become dominant through the institutionalisation of the concept of youth transitions in both governmental and sociological approaches to youth. Rather than focusing on the the capitals possessed by young people per se, in this presentation he will theorise ‘youthfulness’ as an immaterial or affective quality that is mobilised to attribute the sensations, experiences and interactions of the service economy with the experience of hedonism, playfulness, and up-to-date cultural style.

The production of youthfulness is made possible through relations between the micro-level production and consumption that takes place within youth cultures and modes of sociality, the production practices and marketing activities of firms, and young people whose capacities for embodiment, sociability and youthful consumption cultivated both within and outside of paid employment contribute to their constitution as labouring subjects. In this context, the production of appropriately valorisable youthfulness has become a disciplinary requirement of contemporary labour and for the formation of young labouring subjectivities, and has therefore become critical to the production of class and gender through work.