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The cult of experience: standing out from the crowd in an era of austerity




Faced with uncertain futures associated with precarious/casualised employment or unemployment, young people are increasingly encouraged to invest in practices of distinction that enable them to stand out from the crowd in the pursuit of employability. These practices include the acquisition of experiences, such as work experience, internships, volunteering, travel and membership of organisations, which are assumed to give young people an edge over their peers in a crowded and increasingly globalised youth labour market. This paper challenges the logic that the acquisition of experience is a solution to tightening youth labour market conditions. I consider how the logic of employability means that young people are increasingly expected to run faster to stand still, and that rather than moving towards the future, they are increasingly fixed by their past. Moreover this fetishizing of experiences limits young people's subjectivity, because in expecting young people to accumulate more, they may end up achieving, and experiencing, less.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 8, 2015
Online Publication Date May 20, 2015
Publication Date Aug 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Journal Area
Print ISSN 0004-0894
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 3
Pages 296-302
Keywords youth, employability, experience, future
Publisher URL