Breath and the truths of youth at-risk: allegory and the social scientific imagination

Kelly, Peter (2011) Breath and the truths of youth at-risk: allegory and the social scientific imagination. Journal of Youth Studies, 14 (4). pp. 431-447. ISSN 1367-6261 DOI

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The ways that we have invented for knowing young people are governmentalised.This governmentalisation produces powerful incentives to conform to the rulebound and institutionalised knowledge practices that institutions, government departments, corporations, and NGOs understand as being capable of tellingtruths about young people and about risk. I argue that knowledge practices in the social sciences should trouble what counts as truth, as evidence, and the ways in which these truths can be produced. These interests will be examined through a discussion of the ways in which Tim Winton’s novel Breath can be read as an allegorical tale about the terror of being ordinary: and of the teenage years as being a time in a life in which the fear of being ordinary compels Winton’s key characters to seek out, sometimes stumble upon that which promises to make their’s a life less ordinary. Here risk is something that breathes energy and purpose into lifeworlds that are dominated by the institutionalised ordinariness of family, school, and work. As an allegorical tale told from the vantage point of hindsight, Breath unsettles what it is that the social sciences can tell us about youth (as becoming) and risk (as mitigated by prudential foresight).

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Sociology
Date Deposited: 17 Sep 2013 14:40

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