Trailblazing the gender revolution? Young people's understandings of gender diversity through generation and social change

Allen, K., Cuthbert, K. , Hall, J. J., Hines, S. and Elley, S. (2021) Trailblazing the gender revolution? Young people's understandings of gender diversity through generation and social change. Journal of Youth Studies, (doi: 10.1080/13676261.2021.1923674) (Early Online Publication)

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Abstract

Against a backdrop of increasing cultural visibility of people who identify across, between or beyond the categories of male and female, young people have been positioned within the wider social imaginary as radical trailblazers for a new, progressive gender order. This paper provides original insights that empirically ground and interrogate such claims. Drawing on findings from focus group interviews held with 136 young people (aged 16–24) in the UK, the paper demonstrates how young people's understandings and narrations of gender diversity both support and contest linear progress narratives. We show how young people position their acceptance of gender diversity in contradistinction to older generations. However, this narrative of generational progress was undermined and complicated by tensions and ambiguities within young people's talk. Our findings suggest that, alongside being accepting of gender diversity, young people also experience confusion and misunderstanding which may mean that they are more comfortable with stable and binary forms of gender diversity. Moreover, some young people express ideological resistance to gender diversity, informed by wider debates around ‘identity politics’. Overall, we stress the importance of situating young people's gender talk amidst multiple discursive constellations through which increasingly politicised struggles around the meanings of ‘gender’ are currently playing out.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by Economic and Social Research Council: [Grant Number ES/P011772/1].
Status:Early Online Publication
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cuthbert, Dr Karen
Authors: Allen, K., Cuthbert, K., Hall, J. J., Hines, S., and Elley, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Youth Studies
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1367-6261
ISSN (Online):1469-9680
Published Online:12 May 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Youth Studies 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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