Classism relies on people believing that who they are is what they buy and what they own. Youth, Inc. teaches young people classism. It started when youth were identified as a demographic for mass consumerism starting en masse in the 1950s. Utilizing the powerful mainstream media of the day young people between the ages of 12 and 20 were taught they were different, with needs and wants exclusive to their age bracket. They were labeled Teens and Teenagers and Youth and Young Adults, and since then “Youth, Inc.”, the corporate structure supporting popular youth culture, has not backed down. They have actually taken the whole approach a step further by making adults crave to be young, making youth crave to be older, and encouraging parents, employers, teachers and others to infantalize young people to ensure their “youthiness.”
- Do you appeal to the lowest common denominator and use the tactics of youth marketers to appeal to young people, or do you appeal to a “higher” space in order to bring youth on board with your program or class?
- Do you create activities that transform with the shifting social and cultural norms among youth or that are grounded in tradition?
- Are these authentic dichotomies, or is there a more simplistic middle-ground that I’m missing?