In the 1960s those who left school at 15 walked into apprenticeships or got a job in Woolworths. If they decided they had made a mistake they could go to night school in order to improve their prospects. They were free to pick and choose. Now, although more young people are continuing their education from school to university level, with enormous debts incrued, the prospects are grim.
The history of the `teenager` as a separate consumerist group in society is admitted as a construct, a modern rite of passage from childhood to adulthood, a concept that still has marketing value today because the `cult of youth` sells even when teenagers may not be able to buy'
Youth has long been seen as a problem but somewhere along the evolution of ideas, it has been grasped as an opportunity:
European nations developed regimented groups, such as the Scouts and the German Bünde (and at the extreme, the Hitler Youth). On the other hand, there were autonomous movements that ranged from back-to-nature groups, such as the German Wandervögel or the British Woodcraft Folk, to consumerist types, such as 1920s flappers or swing kids in the 1930s.
Passing into general use near the end of the second world war, the American definition of youth's social role was the teenager: a product-hungry, democratic, pleasure-loving individual. This consumerist identity has become the principal pubertal ritual in many western countries.Admitting that at present in Britain teenagers are bearing the brunt of an artificially skewed austerity, David Blanchflower spelt out the cost of this among youth: depression, self-harming, suicidal thoughts. With cuts to the future jobs fund and the education maintenance allowance, and mooted curbs on benefits to the under-25s, teenagers are being hammered by the coalition.
Cutting through the party political rhetoric generated by the article one commentator said, `Youth unemployent is chronic throughout Europe, and the political elite has absolutely no will or idea on how to tackle it.`
Or as other commentators on the whole situation have said: The rich continue to get richer, corporate profits have never been higher, corporations pay little or no tax, and the banks that contributed to the crisis are more powerful than ever.
So it was a bit disenguous to be quoting David Blanchflower, a former Bank of England economist on the cost of austerity to the youth.
Yes, it`s a disgrace what is happening to teenagers but it is also a disgrace how this is being played out in the mainstream media - an endless Punch and Judy puppet show between supposedly alternative parties who sing from the same hymn sheet and ignore the root cause of austerity.
Put austerity where it belongs - on the bankers who caused it.