February 23, 2005
Book Outline: The Keywords of Youth Liberation
[NOTE: This document was added to the blog on May 22, 2005]
Most of my book outlines include large sections that I've never written a word on -- they only exist in my imagination. One of the benefits of this particular outline is that I've written on basically all of these topics -- I'd merely need to collect them into one place, and then edit or rewrite as I see fit. ...It's not necessarily a great first book, in terms of making a splash; but it's probably the most doable book concept I've come up with yet. It's probably better, anyway, to just write as many books as possible -- let the issue of quality sort itself out.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
4. Adult / Youth
5. Youth Liberation
8. Adult Allies
9. Social Change
Introductory essay lists what they "keywords" or "buzzwords" of YL are, and explains how they're interrelated. The terms are somewhat dependent upon each other, and weave into a framework. Each following essay will deal with one term in detail. [I could see some of these terms actually needing more than one essay...] My approach in the following essays will be to catalog differences of opinion -- to be a proponent of my own definition of "oppression", but at the same time to list six or seven other definitions that exist out there, and compare/contrast them.
Points to hit: (1) RC (AKA Reevaluation Counseling, co-counseling), Socialist, and Liberal perspectives. (2) Discuss the list of other oppressed groups (racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, ableism, etc.). (3) Nomenclature: "heterosexism" vs. "homophobia"; "sexism" vs. "male supremacism" vs. "patriarchy" vs. "misogyny" vs. "androcentrism" vs. "gender polarization" vs. "biological determinism" vs. "masculinism", etc. (4) Different frameworks for Social Change and their origins: Rights / Equality vs. Oppression / Liberation, the Declaration of Independence & the Bill of Rights vs. the works of Frantz Fanon & the 60s.
(1) "Ageism" vs. "adultism"; origins of the word "adultism". (2) Related words, a YL glossary, and how the terms relate to each other: adult supremacism, adultarchy, adultcentrism, age-bending, age androgyny, age dualism/monism, age apartheid, youth-hating, teenphobia, etc. (3) A selection of definitions from the web; discussion of what the key term in the definition is, e.g. stereotypes, beliefs re competence, power, legal discrimination, history of ownership, etc. [(4) Five definitions of "adult supremacism".]
4. Adult / Youth
(1) Different models of age: anatomy, character virtue ("maturity), practical competence, social markers (economic independence, marriage), mental age, legal age, age as organization, age as a feeling ("you're only as old as you feel"), age doesn't exist. (2) The organization model in depth. [(3) Good kids / bad kids.] (4) Adulthood examined ("what makes me an adult?"). [(5) The dissociation dynamic, and the struggle for prestige.] (6) Why use the term "youth" vs. "kids", "minors", "children", etc.
5. Youth Liberation
(1) Determining whether or not an activist group is doing YL work; group work vs. solo work, as a belief system vs. activism. (2) YL as a loose philosophy / movement. (3) Sub-varieties of YL (Youth Power, Youth Equality/Rights, Youth Culture). (4) "Youth Liberation" vs. "Children's Rights". (5) A consensus YL political agenda.
(1) The value of working in groups. (2) The risks / benefits associated with becoming an activism. (3) How YL activism differs from activism by other groups. (4) Perpetual debates: separatism vs. collaboration; outraged confrontation vs. peaceful friendship; narrow identity politics vs. a united progressive front; assimilation vs. radical cultural identity. (5) Defining "activism" -- "direct action aimed at a single pivotal decision-maker, aimed at leveraging them to make specific changes" vs. "education" or "demonstrations of protest". (6) Problems that arise within activist efforts: recognizing cooptation, corruption, and self-appointed leaders.
(1) Is YL strong enough to constitute a "movement"? Compare the terms "movement", "community", and "market".
8. Adult Allies
(1) Etiquette for allies. (2) Different philosophies of what it means to be an ally. (3) Different roles for different age groups: minors, tweens, adult allies. (4) Separatism vs. Intergenerational Partnership. (5) Against adults as the sole voice of YL.
9. Social Change
(1) Models of social change: inevitable utopia; violent revolution; popular education against ignorance; shifting the mainstream culture via the media and what's deemed acceptable behavior (making it too uncomfortable to NOT be PC); small political cadres watchdogging specific issues.
...Now having made notes on each of these 9 points, it seems clear that each one is not merely a chapter -- but rather a whole section. I see several here that could easily have 5 essays under them. Perhaps then, I would number the sections, but not number the essays within; treat them as essays, rather than traditional chapters, which are supposed to build upon one another. ...That does move in the direction of writing "bite-sized" chunks, which is an ideal that I like to embody in my writing.
Of the nine topics I've mentioned, "Movement" seems the weakest -- I could easily drop it. I'm not particularly wed to the order I list above. Here's an alternate order:
1. Introduction - how the terms herein interrelate
2. Adult / Youth - the groups we'll be dealing with
3. Oppression - the problem, in general terms
4. Adultism - the problem, in specific terms
5. Youth Liberation - the proposed solution to the problem
6. Activism - the means to accomplishing the solution
7. Adult Allies - the roles of different groups within the solution
8. Social Change - the ultimate ends
The structure I'm looking at is not necessarily the most exciting order -- but it doesn't have to be; I can encourage people to jump around. They'll want to get a rough idea about the ideas first, and may not need to get into every detail, linearly.
If I have an essay on "the consensus agenda of YL", perhaps it belongs under "Social Change", at the very end. It could go under "Youth Liberation" -- but I don't want to associate agenda too strongly with the movement -- I want the movement to be defined by the means. Similarly, I could put the essay under "Activism" -- but it's really about ends, rather than means. There are lots of issues we'd like to take on, but don't have the person-power to engage with.
The essay about "dissociation" seems like an important one -- but doesn't seem to fit under any of the sections well. Maybe it could be subsumed under the "adults as organization" essay. [I'm not sure, but "adult identity" might go there, too.]
...In fact, I may need to add an essay under "Adults / Youth" titled (7) "youth as a social group" which addresses objections to dealing with youth as anything but a "phase". Objections: youth is temporary, while other identities are permanent; all humans go through youth, so age cannot be a vector of oppression; girls' & boys' / teens' & infants' / different races' experience of childhood are too different to compare.
I could see adding an essay on "what adults fear about YL" that could go either in the adultism or YL sections.
The "Adult Allies" section is conspicuously missing an essay on "parents as allies" -- but I still don't know if I have adequate knowledge or material to write an essay like that yet.
There's additional material that I've written on the topic of oppression: "misconceptions about oppression": that oppression is just aberrant individuals; that it's purely mental (prejudice / stereotypes); that you're not oppressed unless you feel a boot on your neck; that privileged youth are not oppressed; that adults are equally oppressed by ageism; that the solution is "age-blindness"; "I'm not an adult, I'm just a Sven", etc.
I think the next steps on this project, if I want to undertake it, is pretty obvious: collect all the essays I've written previously that roughly fit these topics, make new copies, and put them into a binder. Start reading through them with an eye to what's missing and what needs serious re-writing.
That step is different from the usual writing that I do, and will need a solid commitment of time in order to get started.
It's not the book that I ever thought I was going to write -- but there's a way in which it seems to best represent where I've been going all this time. What's my excuse for not getting to work on producing this piece?
[...Boy, the title needs improvement, though!]
Posted by Sven at February 23, 2005 12:01 PM