Picture perfect: Self Construction, Perfection and Performance Culture in two qualitative studies

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Abstract

’Picture perfect’ – when perfection becomes the new normal This paper draws on perspectives from three different studies. One study, which focuses on youth life and lack of well-being (Sørensen et al 2011), one study on youth life on the margins of society (Katznelson et al 2015) and one study on young people and school motivation (Pless et al 2015). Across the different studies and the different groups of young people, we have identified a number of common traits in the young people’s narratives on youth, school and everyday life. One common denominator is a seemingly increasingly narrow concept of normality, where the normal and the perfect tend to blend together. Where perfection earlier was perceived as an unachievable ideal, today it seems to have become a standard, which young people are trying to meet (Sørensen & Nielsen 2014). The studies point to developments within youth life towards a performance-culture, where it is through performing (perfectly), that one becomes acknowledged as a young person, and where top-performances and the ability to position oneself as a ’winner’ is accentuated in young people’s narratives (Sørensen et al 2013, Jackson 2006). In the paper we ask how – and to what extent – performance-culture, and following from this, the narrow concept of normality, is something that different young people relate and define themselves in relation to. At the same time we maintain a focus on how common social demands and structurations affect and are managed by different young people in different social positions. We thus explore, how different young people take on, deal with or reject and formulate tentative alternatives to these ideals and cultural norms: from young people for whom an outside position is part of everyday life, to young people, who, at least offhand, occupy attractive positions in youth- and school life.
Original languageEnglish
Publication dateJun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
EventNordic Youth Research Symposium 12 (NYRIS 12) : Changing Societies and Cultures: Youth in the Digital Age - Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 12 Jun 201314 Jun 2013
Conference number: 12

Conference

ConferenceNordic Youth Research Symposium 12 (NYRIS 12)
Number12
CountryEstonia
CityTallinn
Period12/06/201314/06/2013

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Pless, M., & Sørensen, N. U. (2016). Picture perfect: Self Construction, Perfection and Performance Culture in two qualitative studies . Abstract from Nordic Youth Research Symposium 12 (NYRIS 12) , Tallinn, Estonia.