7 most important findings from Edgeryders on state of Youth in Europe today

7 most important findings from Edgeryders on state of Youth in Europe today

(based on the Edgeryders Guide to the Future)

  1. transition from adolescence to full fledged independent adulthood is a highly fragmented process that doesn’t happen while youth are in their twenties only, and doesn’t have a clear end point.

  2. there is a wealth of knowledge, talent and commitment to make ends meet with little compromise, with freedom to share and collaborate on own terms: by doing things that matter for the world, not for an employer, in times where economic security sounds like an outdated school book

  3. the increasing devaluation and obsolescence of university diplomas and postgraduate qualifications affects how individuals configure personal expectations, and leaves room for acquiring much broader skill sets; this also comes with an appreciation of informal learning, be it in physical or virtual settings

  4. networks are becoming a substitute for family role in terms of allies, care and support they can provide, especially cushions when the state safety nets are weakened or non-existent

  5. with technological change bringing citizens so much closer to the workings and complexities of politics, youth capitalize on that maneuvering space and rather than turning away, they reinvent their relationship with the establishment and use the virtual as a new channel

  6. major risks perceived by young people are threats to their way of doing things: fear of exploitation in terms of cheap labour; being cornered and marginalized for not complying with existing state programmes or for adopting radical means to solve problems

  7. the need for stability and security is more present than ever in the face of generalized precariousness; even with such courageous takes on one’s living with meaning, are we to assume these people should expect a lifetime of precarity?


Sober, to-the-point and concise. I am spreading it!

Now, what shell we build upon this?

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What do you mean by that, Petros?

Findings are just the beginning. :slight_smile:

I mean, it’s interesting what practical steps will be taken from that point on. Meanwhile I read Nadia’s summary and I like it.  I am becoming to be optimistic about ER. :slight_smile:

Dark Edge

I liked the inclusion of the last two paragraphs in the above list, which kind of acknowledge the negative aspects of young adults in Europe. Kind of, because they’re still verbalized around “risks” (as if they could be avoided) and “needs” (as if these would be acknowledged by the establishment already).

So what do I mean? There should be more room for stating the negative side of our situations as they are. Without having solutions. I’m tempted to found a group “Dark Edge” here on Edgeryders, in analogy to the “Dark Mountain Project:wink: Because while I acknowlegde (and generally enjoy) that Edgeryders is generally speaking an uplifting community, and focusing on the positive and on “doing” the solutions, it is also a pressure to “always be positive”. So where things are just plain bad, why don’t we just state it that way, and start from there. It’s not about being whiny, but about making an artful statement about a current, totally precarious situation that has so far no sign of betterment.

Now feeling sorry to be that negative. But I should not – that was the whole point.


Matthias, +1001

I am all with you. Even mature (and not so mature) people tend to experience strange duality of thinking - either denying all dark aspects of life, practicing famous american ‘positive thiinking’ (like a guy falling down from a skyscraper, shouting ‘so far so good’ to people at the window), or drowning in typical C-E European melancholy, contemplating all downs of human existence, with no energy to do anything, but suffering (complaining at best).

The trick is to see evil, but act courageusly. I believe that fellow Edgeryders have enough grit to be the light in the dark - without closing eyes. :slight_smile: So, cheer up, Matthias - be negative as much as you can. Be a touchstone of our light, so to speak :wink:

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+1 from me too, the trick is to know which narrative works when

I think we’ve had our share of complaining with reason and dignity, especially last year when I used to read from us all more than a sob story a day, really. But the danger was always not to stick to the diagnosis of the problem, but more importantly be constructive about it, not risk being stuck in negativity, which is tempting. it was a way of framing research.

then, the sole fact of having people and stories like Petros’s on board keeps us down to earth, really.

<off the record and smiling> I remember even now someone telling us the reason Edgeryders was not pushed further by the EC with subsequent funding was because we didn’t have violins. there wasn’t enough sadness and pitiness transpiring to pull in more money. so on one hand you want to focus on helping and supporting each other to move forward, and for that you need to be a strong positive driver as a network, but on the other you need to look needy enough to be able to draw support from outside. makes sense or am I wrong?

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clarifying a bit …

The trick is to see evil, but act courageusly.

Yes (and thanks for the cheerup). Yet I want to insert an intermediate step: to explore the evil in its full size, to understand it, to look it into the eye for some time without turning to some “solutions” at once, which are courageous but maybe nothing more.

the trick is to know which narrative works when

Yes, our “positive narrative” worked well for doing the research and producing our “Guide to the Future” handbook. So far, so good. Another narrative might work better for funding – I love the violines quote :smiley: Yet, my point is, that at least among ourselves we have to let go of telling a narrative for a purpose. A narrative does not need a purpose – the most authentic one is that which just depicts the situation as it is, with no plan and no agenda. Yes, I too can use narratives “strategically”, and I even have come to like contributing to the sort-of-heroic self-image of Edgeryders by adding my stories such as EarthOS. Yet, I had to distort the stories quite a bit to make them fit, telling them from a certain technophile, positivist perspective. The reality is a half-baken, utopian project that has yet to see any real effect on the ground. And I guess many of our so-called grassroots solutions are likewise hyped by ourselves, to protect us from losing hope or something.

I want to protect us from bullshitting ourselves, in the philosophical meaning of the word. “Bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are”.


Sorry if I seemed too pragmatic

I do think a narrative should have a purpose and several functions though, otherwhise what would drive us, since we all have a pretty good idea of the reality? It’s the various loops  that differ and so you can tell the story in many ways, which doesn’t make it less true does it? Just like with the depiction of Edgeryders in the Handbook, IMHO passion and bravery never undermined the struggle most of us are going through.

I don’t know much about viability of your projects. or about hope. So I wouldn’t dare make any statements about EarthOS, Greece expedition and the like.  bring it on, the Dark Edge…

Taking your challenge :slight_smile:

Nothing to be sorry about :wink: About storytelling, you surely made a good point: a story has indeed many way to tell it, and a good narrative is a powerful tool. How could I ignore that, after having been to fellow Edgeryder Jasmine’s awesome storytelling event in Gothenburg … .

About “we all have a pretty good idea of the reality” I’m not so sure. We all have a good idea of our own little reality, at the individual level. It’s however a different deal to find a solution for (say) joblessness just for myself, or to find a systemic solution because it’s a systemic problem. I guess that, once we let really sink in how serious the conditions are in the society around us, it will inform our individual stories and actions as well: to be more effective, to avoid our own hype. (Side note to Petros: Might be an idea for the Expedition Freedom, to document the state of daily affairs, before documenting peoples’ attempts for solutions.)

So, thanks for challenging me to “bring on the Dark Edge”. I’ll write a first article for Edgeryders blog in that spirit, then we can see where that brings us and if there’s a value in the approach.

Social contract that prevents us breaking it

I wonder how much of an impact the fragmentation of transition has on young people. Most of us now realise the disconnect between what they were promised they would get if they worked hard - a career they could move up the ladder on, a home they could call their own and sufficient income to provide for themselves and others - and the reality that makes any of these expectations impossible for most people. But these expectations we were taught are also social norms. If people no longer believe in social norms in a major area of their life, then it can lead to a spillover effect that they no longer believe in social norms in other areas - don’t know if this relates to the darker aspects of life that Matthias and Freelab discuss ?

As someone pointed out during the riots, “what’s protecting the clothes in Primark isn’t the glass in the window but the social contract that prevents us breaking it”. But to avoid “breaking out the violins”, young people are creating new social norms to protect themselves and each other, as this example by @paulogerbaudo describes about a feature not many people know about from the indignados movement

“The self-imposed prohibitions of the indignados (of drinking alcohol)…stemmed from a widespread impression that heavy consumption of alcohol and drugs had contributed to slowing down young Spaniards’ reaction to the economic crisis. ‘Estabamos apalancados’ (we were stuck), asserted Lucia, a 25-year-old student. ‘People were just trying to forget their problems, getting drunk every night’. Other protesters described their generation to me as being ‘zombified’, for a long time unable to react to its difficult situation because it was too spoiled and pampered, looking for private consolation from its existential troubles in the movida.”

Are there examples of projects where young people are creating new forms of social security to look out for each other?

small examples

Noel, I just read around a bit in the ReGeneration book that you quoted and it’s an interesting piece! Tackling much the same questions that Edgeryders dealt with when composing our “Edgeryders Guide to the Future” book, but in contrast to that, ReGeneration contains many articles written from a researcher / policy advisor perspective. While there are of course many insights in that perspective too, it’s also interesting to see the differences: for example, they still focus a lot on the employment paradigm, while young people themselves probably already see it as a paradigm of a past age.

Anyway. A little example for new social norms might be the unMonastery 8-8-8 rhythm of day, meant to prevent self-exploitation (you know the article already …). So yes, this kind of thing can emerge. And, as you suggested, I guess it also happens in the other direction: Where things don’t work out according to social norms, you also start to question these norms, and maybe norms in general. For example, there’s a quite ridiculous law here in Germany for self-employed folks like me that forces us to pay health insurance for a so-called “virtual minimum income” of ca. 1250 EUR, even if you don’t make that, and it’s also forbidden to simply not have health insurance here. All this contributes to the fact that being self-employed and tryig to get a start-up off the ground does not work out for me here any more. And while I don’t question the social norm of solidarity-based social security per se, if this system won’t let me be, I can’t help but evade it. So probably I will move out of Germany this year, working around this system that still wants to force everybody into the employee paradigm …

Yes the unMonastery rhythm of day is a really good example of new social norms, because it is about defining how we live on our terms. More and more people are questioning solidarity-based social security because it’s no longer solidarity-based across society. It’s saying that if you’re in the pool of people who are unfortunate enough not to be able to afford private social or health services, then you can look after yourselves amongst each other and we’ll celebrate all the exciting initiatives that you’re doing - but we won’t invest in you or support you. In fact we might force you to pay yourself a “virtual minimum income” or in other words provide for your own needs. This is where it becomes very difficult not to self-exploit ourselves!

I’d like to quit ‘social security’ at all

as a concept. Thinking about it as it is considered now - the separate area of community processes - leads us towards institutionalisation. Historically, it was never that special - helping the village’s elders, a neighbor with twisted ankle or a kid that needed to get to school. Only those excluded - no family, low social rating, foreigners - were taken care on a special basis. That was the duty of the community council/church/monastery/manor - not always performed well, and often humiliating, but nevertheless. Now, when we mostly live in variuos, overlapping, virtual, families of choice - isn’t it an opportunity window to rephrase ‘social insurance’ into mutual support? Or simply: solidarity? Yesterday, driving in the snow, I felt off the bend and landed in a deep snow. The guy from the closest house took his father, three shovels (one for me) and we dug the car out together (AWD took me out of the pit without need for the hauling). And in the brief conversation the guy told me that he always helps people - and he never was left helpless in similar situations. Just like that.

Thus, I believe we may really stop talking about ‘social security’ and start talking solidarity instead. Much broader and more universal. And it works allover the world - examples on demand, you DarkRiders…

Bring on the darkness!

Whoa, I managed to miss this great thread! Some points that were made are important to me:

  • "looking bad news in the eye". For me, this was always a strong point of the Edgeryders community. This lesson I learned from Vinay, Smari, Arthur, Lucas and many others at \#LOTE in the "Dark Sarcasm" session: while I learned many interesting things in that session (for example how many KWh of sunlight falls on Planet Earth, the maximum theoretical sustainable energy amount that we could harvest; or that 7000 diabetics live on the Canary Islands, and that their insuline is manufactured in Germany), the real bonanza was the huge relief in  being allowed, even encouraged, to speak the unspeakable, and evoke the big, ugly, scary problems that we have no hope to solve (global collapse! famine! epidemics!). I noticed how these "resilience in collapse" types tend to be quite cheerful in person – maybe because they don't have to desperately look the other way.
  • "not lying to each other". We try to be positive, because it works better than whining. But that – Matthias is absolutely right – should never become a sweetening of pills. If something is going to hell, let's just say so. I'd much rather go to hell with a clear mind.
  • Noel's "bottom-up social security": I think this could be a very interesting research line to pursue. Could we do a project around it?