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February 23, 2005

Book Outline: The Keywords of Youth Liberation - Revised

[NOTE: This document was added to the blog on May 22, 2005]

My previous essay roughed out a book idea, commented the notes I'd made, and suggested further tweaks. Here is an amended version:


1. Introduction: How the terms herein interrelate

2. Adult / Youth: The groups we'll be dealing with

  • Youth as a social group - objections (objections)
    • youth is temporary, a phase; other identities are permanent
    • youth is a universal, there's no relationship between groups
    • experiences of girls/boys, teens/infants, blacks/whites are too different

  • Different models of age
  • Adulthood as a membership organization
    • ways in which adulthood is like an organization
    • the "family resemblance" model of youth
    • explaining a paradox: oppressed becoming oppressors
    • [strategies for winning prestige]
    • [adulthood's conscientious objectors]

  • Identity: What makes me an adult?
  • Terms we use: youth, minors, kids, children
  • [Good kids / bad kids]

3. Oppression: The problem, in general terms
  • Oppression: A starting-place definition
    • a historical relationship of power difference
    • oppression vs. privilege vs. entitlement

  • Different models of oppression
  • Misconceptions about oppression (objections)
  • Adultism in the context of other oppressions
  • How oppressions get named
  • Two different frameworks: Inequality vs. Oppression

4. Adultism: The problem, in specific terms
  • How different authors have defined "Adultism"
  • Ageism vs. Adultism
  • Creating a YL vocabulary
  • [Five definitions of "Adult Supremacism"]
  • [What Adultism encompasses]
  • [A brief history of adult oppression]

5. Youth Liberation: The proposed solution to our problem
  • YL as a loose philosophy / movement
  • Youth Liberation vs. Children's Rights
  • Sub-varieties of Youth Liberation
  • Criteria for YL organizations
  • [Guiding principles]

6. Activism: The means to accomplish our solution
  • What constitutes "activism"?
  • The value of working in groups
  • Risks & benefits of becoming an activist
  • How youth activism differs from that of other groups
  • Perpetual debates: long-standing disagreements about what tactics to use
    • separatism vs. collaboration
    • angry confrontation vs. peaceful friendship
    • assimilation vs. radical cultural identity
    • narrow identity politics vs. a united progressive front

  • Problems that arise within the movement: cooptation, corruption, self-appointed leaders

7. Adult Allies: Roles of different groups within the solution
  • [What adults fear about YL (objections)]
  • Different models of being an ally
  • Against adults being the sole voice of YL
  • Separatist vs. Multigenerational organizations
  • Different roles for different age groups
  • Etiquette for allies
  • [Parents as allies]
  • [Why activists from other movements should care]

8. Social Change: Our ultimate goal
  • Models of social change
  • A consensus YL political agenda
  • [Life in a post-YL world]
  • [Escape freedom / Guiding Principles: self-ownership, etc.]


...I could see potentially putting two new sections after "Adult / Youth":

#. Difference: How different are adults and youth, really?
[Equality? Equal treatment?]

  • Sameness vs. difference: addressing age-based abilities
  • Varieties of age-based discrimination [problems for equality]
    • Obvious discrimination (curfew, spray paint)
    • Participation in decision-making (the vote)
    • Skill-based competencies (driving license, airplane seating)
    • Vice (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, pornography)
    • Protection from exploitation (age of consent, labor laws)
    • Privileged treatment (juvenile sentencing)

  • Thought experiment: Ageless being

#. Identity: One's sense of self re age [who do you think you are?]
  • Membership vs. identity [what if I don't feel like an adult?]
  • What makes me an adult?
  • "I'm not a kid!" - strategies for dissociating from childhood
  • Being a conscientious objector to adulthood
  • [Maturity as virtue]
  • [Adults entitlements & obligations; a sense of superiority]
  • [Is the problem adult's image of youth -- or adults' self-image?]
  • [Good kids / bad kids (and daring to be bad!)]
  • [Acknowledging membership -- while transgressing identity]


I'll bet that each of the section subtitles could be phrased in the form of a question. I'll bet that would make them more compelling. Let's see...

1. Introduction: How do these buzzwords fit together?

2. Adult / Youth
Q: Where is the dividing line between the two?
A: It's fuzzy -- but based on the family.

3. Difference
Q: How different are adults and youth, really?
A: As different as adults are from one another.

4. Identity
Q: Who do you think you are?
A: Maybe you don't want to be either! ["feel like"?]

5. Oppression
Q: What general problem does YL seek to redress? [Wrong Q?]
A: Human beings being treated as if they're property.

6. Adultism
Q: How, specifically, are youth oppressed? [Wrong Q for content?]
A: Adults continue to treat youth like human property.
[Q: Is adultism an oppression? /Q: Do adults oppress youth?]
[A: Yes!]

7. Youth Liberation
Q: How do we end adultism?
A: We fight back!

8. Activism
Q: What tactics should YL use?
A: Working in small groups to influence decision-makers.

9. Adult Allies
Q: What should the role of adults be in YL?
A: Helping youth with resources -- but not replacing youths' own voice.

10. Social Change:
Q: What does the world we're fighting for look like?
A: A place where youth can escape harm, and where adults don't feel entitled to command.

Note: I just added the answers to these questions in as an afterthought. I kind of like them! I could have section titles, and then on the same page a "Q:" and an "A:". [...I've just added that change.]


And now, let's brainstorm some better titles:

  • The Key Concepts of Youth Liberation
  • ** Youth Liberation's Big Ideas
  • Youth Liberation: A Primer
  • Youth Liberation Philosophy
  • Everything you need to know about Youth Liberation


Once again I find myself putting the section on "Oppression" before the "Adultism" section. The rhetorical strategy if I do so, is to describe the general concept, and then show how adultism meets the criteria set forth, and is justified in being included within the category. I've grown uncomfortable with this approach, as it seems to depend too much on saying "me too!" to the work of other movements.

I would rather, now, put "Adultism" first -- describe the phenomenon independent of anything else -- and then follow it with "Oppression", as if to say "and look: here are other groups with whom we have common cause." Perhaps that means that I need to add an additional category (Argh! Proliferation!): "Mistreatment" (or something similar). Perhaps "the command / obey relationship"? ...That would be followed by "Oppression", which would then be followed by "Adultism"... Which now would focus on the question, "does how adults treat youth constitute an oppression?"

That seems overly complicated -- and I'm uncomfortable giving such importance to a term that I coined myself ("command / obey relationship"). Perhaps the issues around whether or not adultism is an oppression could be rolled into the oppression section -- which would simply become a longer, more technical part of the book, then.

...If I do go with adding "Difference" and "Identity" sections, then I have enough sections in this book vision that I might want to break it into three parts. Thus:

1. Introduction


2. Adult / Youth
3. Difference
4. Identity


5. Adultism
6. Oppression


7. Youth liberation
8. Activism
9. Adult Allies
10. Social Change

Hm. What I notice now is that I've emptied all the real content from "Adultism" into "Oppression". Let me see if I can rework this...

3. Adultism: How adults mistreat youth

  • [A brief history of adult oppression]
  • [How different varieties of YL frame the problem]
  • How different authors have defined "Adultism" [same topic?]
  • [** Adultism as the command / obey relationship]
  • Ageism vs. Adultism
  • Creating a YL vocabulary

4. Oppression: The theory of why people mistreat each other
  • Oppression: A starting-place definition
    • a historical relationship of power difference
    • commonly recognized oppressions
    • oppression vs. privilege vs. entitlement

  • Different models of oppression
  • Misconceptions about oppression (objections)
  • How oppressions get named
  • Two different frameworks: Inequality vs. Oppression

Posted by Sven at February 23, 2005 12:02 PM