Youth responding to economic crisis with resistance & hope

Category: General

15 Apr 2016

Paulina Trejo Mendez, ISS, Giulia Simula, ISS, Laura Angelica Santamaria Buitrago, ISS & Paula Sanchez de la Blanca Díaz-Meco, 15M, Spain


Spanish ‘Youth without future’

In the next session of our  Dialogues on Civic Innovation Research on 25 April 2016, we will be looking at youth responses of resistance and hope to the economic crisis in Southern Europe.

We are interested in the voices and alternatives is the current dominant narrative on the economic crisis leaving out. How are young people in Europe trying to counter this narrative with alternatives that consciously try to de-link from capitalist social relations and how are they re-inventing new economic and social relations?

Youth networks in southern Europe are working to form alternatives in ways that differ from older more traditional struggles of class and capital. We see youth as part of a contemporary form of protest today that is resisting inequalities and responding to global consumer capitalism in ways that go beyond the old class/capital battles. In negotiating current relations and futures youth are dealing with issues like generation, gender, sexuality, race/ethnicity, care and environment. We explore how these concerns lead to more messy and heterogeneous modes of organizing, chronologies and agendas. The new forms of relations particularly linked to non-hierarchical ways of organizing are not entirely new, but can co-exist with previous experiences of collective leadership (e.g. long-term autonomistas (autonomy) and anarchist traditions in Spain).

Our dialogue is inspired by a series of discussions among ourselves as young people aged from 16-30 in dialogue with Wendy Harcourt. All of us have lived or undertaken research in Spain and Italy. We experimented in writing a chapter of the CIRI book on “Exploring Civic Innovation for Social and Economic Transformation“as a series of conversations about theory, experience of resistance and possibilities of hope told in the interviews and conversations. We have drawn from our own experiences shared with other young activists in dialogue with different theories about social movements, embodied research and youth studies. In the dialogue on 25 April, we will reflect together on the questions above in an interactive fishbowl conversation.

We would like to focus on the doing and being of youth in their own understanding of politics in this specific historical moment. In particular, we look at how youth resistance is creating innovative ways to challenge the contemporary dominant order of things and in this way are creating alternatives to current dominant economic practices.

Examples of youth resistance that will be discussed in the panel include the Spanish ‘Juventud sin futuro’ (Youth without Future) and the group ‘no nos vamos nos echan’ . On the Italian side, we will discuss youth alternatives born in schools, centri sociali and about the precarious generation.

By bringing together the interpretations and narratives as told by youth themselves we aim to displace the gloomy unemployment statistics and economic forecasts and instead present the crisis as forging possibilities for a change of the current social, economic and political order. As the Spanish based movement ‘Youth without Future’ state, they came together first in order to make their plight visible as youth ‘without a home, without a job’, but also as people ‘without fear’ for the future. We see youth not as lost, but rather as building forms of civic innovation; searching for alternative forms of economics, revaluing care, creating places for discussion, and creating new forms of relations. We/they are searching for change, not as part of political parties or organized NGOs or even social movements but rather in their own ways of living precarity and loss and uncertainty. In this, we see youth as going beyond dominant hegemonic ideologies of economics, politics and society and challenging even the idea of what is southern Europe – and what type of futures youth are creating now.


Paula Sánchez

April 18th, 2016 at 8:18 pm

I will be very happy to bring to the discussion also the current movement nuit debout that is spreading across France and Belgium since the 31st March, with many similarities with the 15M and occupy movement

Looking forward to next Monday!

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International Institute of Social Studies

CIRI aims to scale up and identify synergies between existing research at ISS on civic agency and change agents, as drivers of societal change and development. This blog is a forum on which to share and discuss themes and issues which fall within the broad framework of the programme.

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