Youth and the critical agenda: Negotiating contradictory discourses

Mary Ryan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Syllabus and policy documents in many states and countries around the world, and more specifically in Queensland are underpinned by an emancipatory agenda, in particular the principles of social justice. Educators are called upon to achieve this through a pedagogy which is immersed in the language of critical theory. Two elements that underpin emancipatory politics, that is, a transformative attitude towards the future, and the aim of overcoming the illegitimate domination of some individuals or groups by others, seem to be unobtainable within a choice generation, with its focus on lifestyle and consumerism. This paper focuses on the discourses of youth that are legitimated through the accounts of young people for whom emancipation is not a key issue. Such students may achieve the syllabus outcomes related to the critical agenda, yet it begs the question: Are contemporary youth making choices that further the critical transformative cause, or are our critical pedagogies simply serving to perpetuate dominant understandings? This paper explores and interprets performative accounts of youth and their multiliterate lives, within a critical poststructuralist framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Educational Researcher
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2008
Externally publishedYes


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