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The exploitation of youth: An alternative history of youth policy in Australia

Pyvis, David (1991) The exploitation of youth: An alternative history of youth policy in Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis argues against the prevailing orthodox view that governments in Australia have only recently recognised a need to isolate and address youth as a distinct population. Focusing particularly on Commonwealth policy, it provides evidence of a long and sustained history of government interventions with youth. (Attention is concentrated less on the implementation of these policies than on the rhetoric of the policy-makers: the sorts of reasons used in defence of government interventions, particularly in parliamentary debate.) This approach facilitates examining the way power is exercised over youth through the concepts in terms of which young people are identified and thought about and reveals an enduring logic underpinning government youth policy. The thesis argues that youth policy is characterised by the recognition of youth as a potential force or resource of the state to be developed and harnessed. But it goes beyond suggesting that youth is simply utilised in the national interest. Concentrating on the identity and roles politicians construct for youth in their rhetoric, it argues that this policy area marks out a generational interest, so that the old govern the young in the interests of preserving their own power. Youth policy is informed by the recognition of youth as a threat to the status quo. It is shaped by the need of each 'ruling generation' to oblige the young to accept its discipline and contribute to the maintenance and preservation of 'its' state. So the thesis ultimately argues that youth policy does not usually take the form of a benevolent intervention on behalf of youth, but is more commonly developed in the interests of its makers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Watt, John
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