‘You are stealing our future’: towards powerful methodologies to explore youth climate activism

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Abstract

With humanity facing existential threat, youth have made their voices heard as neverbefore on the issue of climate and ecological breakdown. In March 2019, more than 1.6 million young people took to the streets across the globe to demand action on climate change. This presentation will demonstrate how participatory approaches to researchcan amplify youth voice, by presenting findings from a study which used a narrative inquiry methodology.In order to imagine the lifespace of the narrative inquiry, the presentation will explore how the Youth Strike 4 Climate (YS4C) movement has successfully used a powerful narrative to mobilise youth activists on a global scale. Subsequently, the lived experiences of five participants from Bristol YS4C are explored through narrative inquiry. As their stories are retold, comparisons are drawn between the meta-narrative and the lived experiences of the individuals. Through the analysis of the five narratives, it is found that the stories as told by the participants provide a richer and more contextualised understanding of the lived realities of the activists than the meta-narrative offers. The findings reveal conflicting self-perceptions among the young people, as well as gaps in emotional intelligence. The meta-narrative is shown to rely on reductionistic rhetoric which oversimplifies the message of the movement. The level of nuance evident in the findings demonstrates the need for open participatory methods of research which place the emphasis on real lived experiences and attend to issues of place, sociality and temporality.It is suggested that adult-centric, top-down research methods result in the marginalisation of young people as political agents. This work points towards the possibilities for creative, collaborative approaches with world-building potential, which will be crucial in transitioning to a sustainable future. It is proposed that research conducted through narrative inquiry is a first step in that direction.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 17 Jul 2021
Event7th International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference: Narrative Exchange in Risky Spaces - Dublin City University (Online), Ireland
Duration: 16 Jun 202117 Jun 2021

Conference

Conference7th International Irish Narrative Inquiry Conference
CountryIreland
Period16/06/2117/06/21

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