The concept of youth and youth policy : a discursive analysis

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The concept of youth and youth policy : a discursive analysis

 

Author: Tse, Tak-man
Title: The concept of youth and youth policy : a discursive analysis
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2004
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Youth.
Youth -- Government policy.
Department: Dept. of Applied Social Sciences
Pages: i, 207 leaves ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1957924
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2259
Abstract: The objectives of this thesis are to: a) find out how youth problems were articulated from 1950s to 1970s in Hong Kong; b) to examine how relevant discourses made sense of youth problems and put forward youth policies; and c) to investigate the relation between youth policies and the process of state formation. To answer the above questions, Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis is employed. Fairclough emphasized that discourses have effects on construction of social identity and social relations, termed as the interpersonal function, and the construction of system of knowledge and belief, as the ideational function. Focusing these two functions of texts, we identified the parties involved and the relations among them in youth policy formation in textual analysis. In Fairclough's model, this textual analysis is combined with an analysis of a wider context of sociocultural practice. Fairclough provides a three-tier structure of analysis for this study. The first-tier is an textual analysis by which specific features are found. The second-tier, called discursive practice, is to examine the meanings of text by reference to the production and interpretation of the text. The third-tier, called social practice, is to bridge the production and interpretation of text to ideological changes of hegemonic discourse. The study attempts to identify the changes of youth discourse and its relation to social changes. These changes divided the three decades from 1950 to 1979 into three periods. In the first period from 1950 to 1965, poverty discourse was widely accepted by the government, voluntary agencies and the public. Poverty discourse treated youths as victims of poverty who were forced to earn a living through delinquent means. Youths were constructed as socio-economical subjects. It excluded moral discourse, which deemed youth as a threat of morality and social order and should be subject to surveillance. Youth services were provided in the forms of nutrition care, clubs and trade training. In the second period from 1966 to 1972, youth policy underwent a critical change, because of the outbreak of riots in 1966. The governing alliance of youth policy expanded the social and recreational services for preventing youth delinquency. Engagement discourse was embedded in the social and recreational policy and constructed youth as a bio-psychological subject who experienced a developmental stage and was driven by their inherent nature toward either constructive or destructive ends. It was believed that this internal nature of youth was the determining factor of youth delinquency. Socialization discourse was in a contesting relation to the dominant engagement discourse. It emphasized that youth delinquency was caused by the mal-socialization of youths. However, it was not adopted by the government. In the period from 1973 to 1979, the surveillance on youth increased, system failure discourse replaced the engagement discourse and was in the dominant position of youth policy. The system failure discourse emphasized that the mal-function of family and school system was the root of youth delinquency. Family life education, school social work and outreaching social work, informed by social scientists and professional social workers were developed and supported by the government to prevent problematic family relationships and school dropouts which would likely lead to the weak bond of families and schools and resulted in youth become delinquent. The study also found that the colonial government was influential in the formation of the policy. It delimited the development of the policy to the social domain and thus excluded the political and ideological issues from the youth policy. This focused the concern of youth policy on preventing delinquency. Youths were thus constructed as a threat of social order since the riots. The modern form of youth governing is formed with the establishment of this youth policy.

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