RN Reports – RN30 Youth and Generation
Sanna Aaltonen, RN30 Coordinator 2017-2019
At the moment of writing this report the most recent mid-term conference of the RN30 Youth and Generation organised in Serbia between 13th and 16th of September 2018 is still fresh in the mind. The title of the conference, “Being Young in context. Concepts, contexts and comparisons in youth studies”, was designed to invite youth sociologists to direct their research gaze to sociological practices, diversity of contexts, relevance of concepts and the specificities of a comparative approach. While the conference was co-hosted by the Sociological Association of Serbia and Montenegro and the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Belgrade, the event was not held in the capital but at Silver Lake, a 100 kilometers East of Belgrade. Our tradition has been to find a venue for the conference outside of big cities as well as keeping the event relatively small, and allowing as much as 40 minutes for presentations and discussions. This has been the recipe for close-knit conferences where knowledge and recent developments around youth sociology are circulated in an enthusiastic and intellectual atmosphere.
Organising the mid-term conferences has been the key activity of RN30 in between the biennial ESA conferences. In addition to providing a forum for scholarly discussion, the conferences have been an important method to involve new members to the European community of youth sociologists. This year the conference attracted both newcomers and old hands and it was a demanding task for the board to score and select 36 papers from 60 submissions. Two keynote presentations were given by Sarah Irwin from the University of Leeds and Smiljka Tomanović from the University of Belgrade. Due to some unfortunate last-minute cancellations we ended up with 31 papers but still managed to gather an impressive group of scholars from 18 different countries.
The Serbian conference was already the 7th in a row. The first one was held in 2007 in Slovakia followed by Estonia in 2009, UK in 2010, Catalunya in 2012, Poland in 2014 and Portugal in 2017, the last one being organised in co-operation with the ISA RC34 ‘Youth Sociology’. However, the history of RN30 started already at the 2nd biennial ESA conference held in Budapest in 1995 when ‘The Research Network Youth and Generation in Europe’ was created. Jean-Charles Lagree acted as a coordinator of this network until 2005. In 2001 an advisory steering committee with four members was appointed and at the 7th biennial ESA conference in Torun in 2005 a formal board was elected. An e-mail discussion list hosted by Jiscmail at the address esa-youth [at] jiscmail.ac.uk was created for the network the same year. While the list faded away for some years it was regenerated in 2017 and facilitates network communication along with the mailings done via the membership site of ESA.
In addition to the mid-term conferences another intensive time for correspondence and co-operation within the RN30 is obviously the preparation for the biennial conferences. Among the research networks of ESA RN30 is a relatively big one, which is reflected both in the number of members and the abstract submissions received. In 2017 the number of membership affiliations of RN30 was 89 (the spectrum being from 23 to 130). Further, for the 13th biennial conference organised in Athens the network received 145 abstract submissions which resulted in accepting 137 papers and forming 24 sessions. Four sessions were organised jointly with RN26 Sociology of Social Policy and Social Welfare. Furthermore, RN30 has been active in putting forward sociological discussion of youth in semi-plenaries and keynote-sessions. In Athens a keynote session entitled “Youth, Intergenerational Solidarity and the Crises in Europe” featured a speech by Ann Nilsen from the University of Bergen and commentaries by Carmen Leccardi and Sanna Aaltonen. Regarding the coming 14th biennial conference in Manchester, we are very pleased that our semi-plenary proposal entitled “New understandings of children and young people’s activism” and submitted jointly with RN04 Children and Childhood has been included in the programme.
The current RN30 Board is composed of the coordinator Sanna Aaltonen (University of Eastern Finland/Finnish Youth Research Society, Finland), two co-coordinators Carlo Genova (University of Torino, Italy) and Magda Nico (CIES-IUL, Portugal) and four board members, Evelyne Baillergeau (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Michela Franceschelli (University College London, UK), Jaana Lähteenmaa (University of Tampere, Finland) and Kristoffer Chelsom Vogt (University of Bergen, Norway). The rotation policy allows members of the board to serve two terms (four years) and a new coordinator is selected after each two years. In the business meeting that will be held in Manchester two members will vacate their positions.
On behalf of the board of RN30 I warmly welcome youth sociologists to attend the business meeting and become involved in our activities.
RN30 on the ESA website.