Aspiring Workers or Striving Consumers? Rethinking Social Exclusion in the Era of Consumer Capitalism

Lara Monticelli, Simone Baglioni

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This study is part of a special issue aimed at investigating young people’s trajectories in troubled and challenging times. The paper tackles the topic by providing the results of an in-depth qualitative and exploratory study conducted on young unemployed people in the Italian city of Turin – the industrial ‘capital’ of the Sixties, now undergoing a massive wave of deindustrialization. Interviews were gathered in 2010, when the Great Recession was severely affecting young people living in Southern European countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The article proceeds along two levels of analysis. The first focuses on the subjective experience of unemployment and job precariousness seen through the eyes of young people, aware of living in exceptionally hard and uncertain times. The second focuses on the broad mechanisms leading to social exclusion paying particular attention to deprived experiences of consumption. Findings reveal that while work has not lost its material and symbolic meaning, a great importance is attributed to experiences of consumption, as a way for young people to socialize with peers.
TidsskriftContemporary Social Science: Journal of the Academy of Social Science
Udgave nummer3-4
Sider (fra-til)316–332
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Social exclusion
  • Consumption
  • Unemployment
  • Precariousness
  • Youth