Neoliberalism and the Cultural and Political Dispositions and Practices of Millennials in London and LA
: a socio-cognitive analysis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the everyday experiences and aspirations of young people living in Los Angeles and London, focusing on their cultural and political dispositions, emotions, thoughts and practices, and how these converge with, and diverge from, the dominant neoliberal discourses they are surrounded by. The contemporary literature on youth and youth politics tends to view young people as active and cognizant agents in the reproduction of socio-cultural and political-economic institutions, discourses, and practices. Applying a socio-cognitive approach to the analysis of interview data, ethnographic observations, and media-cultural texts, this thesis contends that these bodies of literature neglect the unconscious dimensions of young people’s practices, and in particular, that insufficient emphasis is placed on how these contribute to the reproduction of neoliberalism. It argues that, if the literature on youth is to adequately conceptualize and represent young people and their roles in social reproduction, then research explorations must attend to these unconscious dimensions. As this thesis will demonstrate, doing so facilitates and enriches analyses of the ways in which different institutional settings influence, constrain, and enable young people, and of some of the ways that young people contest, internalize, and negotiate between the dominant societal discourses presented to them. The thesis also explores some of the lessons that a socio-cognitive approach to youth culture and politics can contribute to the work of critical educators concerned with progressive social change. It argues that critical and progressive educators must incorporate socio-cognitive insights into their practices in order to tackle the potential dispositional barriers which may hinder the realisation of the political objectives of critical and progressive pedagogy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorSharon Gewirtz (Supervisor) & Meg Maguire (Supervisor)

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