The Think!Fest lecture by Gerard Boyes on youth attitudes in the ‘age of hope’ had me excited at the idea of a good topic that the FJP’s could really sink our teeth into. However, by the end of the lecture I was more peeved than anything else.
Mr Boyes presented a quantitative study that he had done on a group of ‘young people’ indicating their attitudes towards their lives, politics, state of the nation and the future which was divided into age groups and race groups. We sat through 45 minutes of statistics being thrown at us about this seemingly generic group of ‘young people’, which frankly did not reveal anything surprising either (stats differ mostly between white and black youth and not in different age groups; shock horror).
I felt that Mr Boyes went about studying the topic at hand in the wrong way and his data, while providing a very basic outline of research – was not as constructive as it could have been were he to have added a qualitative aspect to it. He made us as young people seem simple and homogenous (although he insisted that his research proved that we were not) while a more discursive aspect would have given him substantial, complex data to work with.
It felt as though a burning topic which is highly prevalent was reduced to a simplified set of figures, not to mention an entire group of youth with vastly complicated, varying and fragmented identities who were treated as though they were a species to be studied.
By Devaksha Vallabhjee