Celebrity, Aspiration and Contemporary Youth: Education and Inequality in an Era of Austerity

Heather Mendick, Aisha Ahmad, Kim Allen, Laura Harvey

Research output: Book/ReportBook - authored


Celebrity, Aspiration and Contemporary Youth uses the lens of celebrity to explore how young people think about their futures under austerity. Based on an interdisciplinary study, the book offers fresh insights into contemporary youth aspirations and inequalities. It helps us to understand young people's transitions into adulthood at a time of socio-economic 'crisis'. Drawing on original data, the authors examine what it means for young people to be forming their aspirations within the context of 'austere meritocracy'. The book addresses three central questions: What kinds of futures do young people desire and imagine for themselves? What is required of young people in the process of achieving these futures? And how are inequalities embedded and reproduced within these? Using young people's 'celebrity talk' to explore their aspirations, the authors challenge stereotypes of young people as a fame-hungry, get-rich-quick generation. Instead, they show how young people engage critically with celebrity and its discourses. Key chapters focus on how young people talk about youth, work, authenticity, success, happiness, money and fame in relation to their own lives and those of celebrities. Each of these chapters contains a case study of an international celebrity, including, Beyoncé, Will Smith, Bill Gates, Prince Harry and Kim Kardashian. The authors conclude with possibilities for social change. They show that celebrity offers an important way of working with young people to critically explore what futures are possible and for whom.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages216
ISBN (Print)9781474294201
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018


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