The study of youth played a central role in anthropology in the first half of the twentieth century, giving rise to a still-thriving cross-cultural approach to adolescence as a life stage. Yet the emphasis on adolescence as a staging ground for integration into the adult community often obscures young people's own cultural agency or frames it solely in relation to adult concerns. By contrast, sociology has long considered youth cultures as central objects of study, whether as deviant subcultures or as class-based sites of resistance. More recently, a third approach—an anthropology of youth—has begun to take shape, sparked by the stimuli of modernity and globalization and the ambivalent engagement of youth in local contexts. This broad and interdisciplinary approach revisits questions first raised in earlier sociological and anthropological frameworks, while introducing new issues that arise under current economic, political, and cultural conditions. The anthropology of youth is characterized by its attention to the agency of young people, its concern to document not just highly visible youth cultures but the entirety of youth cultural practice, and its interest in how identities emerge in new cultural formations that creatively combine elements of global capitalism, transnationalism, and local culture.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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