Citizens of Tomorrow, Today: Political Futurity and Youth Citizenship in a High School Student Council
Bethune, Jennifer Anne
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Student councils are ubiquitous in North American high schools, and yet, they are often overlooked as a site of youth citizenship and student leadership. This dissertation explores the affective dimensions of youth citizenship and student leadership, focusing on a student council in an urban high school in Canada. Based on a 15-month ethnography, the dissertation claims that affective orientations toward politics and young people are often at odds with the developmental and relational realities of being a young person. Through analysis of participant observations, interview transcripts, and texts, the study draws attention to the way that the relationships that structure schooling circumscribe young peoples citizenship and leadership. Drawing on theories of affect and political theory, the study focuses on three areas toward which the young people in the studys political lives were oriented: infantile citizenship (Berlant, 1997), authority and political conflict, and happy diversity (Ahmed, 2012). The dissertation concludes with a call for educators, policy-makers, and scholars interested in childhood and youth to consider the political and affective conditions that propel impulses to improve upon young peoples enactment of citizenship in terms of the attachment to the promise of young peoples political futurity.