European Youth Studies


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This is the space to write the wiki article for the team of 5 working on Nilan & Feixa (2006) on a key concept stemming from the Nilan & Feixa text.


Cultural pluralism and youth

Cultural pluralism is a term used originally to describe a situation where several cultures coexist. In that context culture is understood as a coherent system of values and beliefs among a group of people – often determined by conditions of class. In the postsubculturalist discource the youth subcultures are described as incoherent and hybrid constantly moving processes of identity creation. These are manifested as taste cultures or styles. In the formation of habituses young people consume globally produced cultural material to create meaningful scenes.


Globalization imposes two contradictory forces on youth cultures. On one hand, it facilitates a process of homogenisation and threatens cutural pluralism, substituting local youth cultures with hegemonic global youth culture. Elimination of cultural diversity and emergence of global youth culture takes place through cultural imperialism, linguistic colonialism, market monopolization, technological developments and Consumerism.

On the other, Globalisation facilitates cultural pluralism and expands a range of youth subcultures. Technology and communication make information more readily available and boost mobility of individuals, thus, increasing exposure to wider range of cutural practices. Young people have access to enourmous variety of sources to consume, experiment with, choose from in their local creative practices. Plural Worlds (meaning both, individual young person subscribing to more than one culture; and, lack of conformity and arguably non-existent mainstream/primary youth culture) that are characterized by border crossing, mobility, and multiplicity owes a great deal to the forces unleashed by globalization.


Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The means of production have evolved from handcraft to mass production and to mass customisation. In youth cultures consumption of goods is a way to bolster belonging to group and to build own identity and to express them both. Consumer identities are essentially pluralistic. Different elements are mixed to create a unique mosaic. When these combinations seem to reflect incongruous norm systems, the consumption habits are compartmentalised.

Similarly to contrasting impact globalization has on youth cultures, namely increasing diversity and homogenization, consumerism both arrests and facilitates diversity. Homogenization through consumerism, by Ritzer (1993) described as McDonaldization, takes place when cultural industries commodify, regularize, and market cultural practices, goods, trends, etc. However, arguably, when engaging in consumption of cultural products (music, clothes, food, technology, behaviors, etc.) youth consumes in a local as well as individual way (process known as individualization). Therefore, in the process of consumption a lot of creativity takes place. The question is how things are consumed? The dynamics behind consumerism that lead to hybridity and plural worlds can be explained by an analogy of fitting a Tshirt. The same Tshirt will look different depending on who and how will be wearing it. Depends if you are slim, short, fair skin, dark hair, etc. Furthermore, it depends how the Tshirt fits with the rest of the outfit – accessories, shoes, pants, jacket. Following this logic, whatever global goods or practices are consumed by youth, it is done creatively adapting to and in a local context.


Globalization is determine the field of young people as a given area which young people select, create, structuring their identities, enjoy, learn, etc... This new area includes lots of different features of youth culture. Basicly,"Habitus" appears in this condition as a inhabit of young people.

Also "Habitus" is a hybrid social context of youth culture.

Consumerism presents young people choices, designated possibilites which are available to buy, to use and to select more than ever. To consume which causes fast and lack of origins actions drive young people to be unthought and conscious self. Wide span of consumerism as a factor of globalization also depend on class distinction which is effect youth culture for engender hybrid identities. Invention and reinvention of the youth identites appaer as a daily life act of young people which fast and superficial.

Young people constract their identities and make their choices by judging, synthesizing and filtering different elements of their life which are realizing under the competing conditions.

Competing on identities, hybridities of social life experiences, transcultural relationships, fragmented behaviours of young individuals are forming "Habitus" as a plural world.


The two concepts centre and periphery can be seen in diffrent ways. In a globalized world the centre can be seen as global and the periphery as local. Or the centre can mean urban and the periphery as rural. The is also a much critizied understanding that the centre mean the western culture and the periphery the non western culture. The problem with the two concept is that the two words bring as certain value system along with them.

Howvever, today many young people obtain their information from both local and global sources. In the so called network society or the information age, these terms are becoming less dicothomis. But it does not mean that the cultures are becoming more and more homogenus, instead both of these concepts play an important part of young people´s lives. For instance, a global youth culture often has a local meaning and practices that comes along with that. As well as a local culture can influence the global practices. The key here is availability to cultural and social practices.

In relation to adults, young people are often more dependent of their local environment due to economic and political settings. Which means that youth cultures, even when derived from a global source, are often shaped by their local standpoints.


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Further Reading

Marwan M. Kraidy “Hybridity, or the cultural logic of globalization”, Temple University Press, USA, 2005

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