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XX Annual Conference of Youth Studies 2021

Turning points – young people in social changes

The theme of the Annual Conference on Youth Studies 2021 aimed to address the impact of wide social changes and turning points on youth and young people’s lives, as well as young people as actors in the midst of these changes.

Past years’ developments have raised the global crisis consciousness level at new heights. The Covid-19 pandemic and various phenomena related to it have had a significant impact on young people’s lives. Even before that, the global climate change and environmental concerns linked to it have contributed in growing levels of climate consciousness. In many countries, anti-democracy movements have also gained ground and attention. Young people have been both targets of heavy restriction measures and critique, and actively safeguarding the environment and counteracting racism and inequality.    

Changes in the society are reflected in young people’s everyday lives in multiple ways, in both short and long term.  Major events may prove transformative for an entire youth generation, and redefine their lives. Social turning points may receive wide media attention or remain unnoticed at the time they take place. Changes in the society may generate new ways of thinking and acting, and for some, positive possibilities. On the other hand, inequalities may increase as well.  

The Annual Conference of the Youth Studies examined youth and young people in the midst of social changes, both in previous times as well as today. We wished to acknowledge both wide global developments and their local forms as well as individual reactions to them. During the Conference, we wished to highlight young people’s various roles in social changes – as witnesses, actors and/or solution-makers – and point out that from young people’s viewpoint, a change may be a crisis, a turning point or a possibility.   

Key note speakers

The keynote speakers were Professor Ann Phoenix (University College London) from the UK and Associate Professor Steven Threadgold (Newcastle University) from Australia.  


The Annual Conference of Youth Studies 2021 was organized in collaboration between the Finnish Youth Research Society and University of Helsinki, disciplines of social and public policy and sociology (Faculty of Social Sciences).