Reporting from a three-year longitudinal study following 16 young women through their upper secondary schooling, this article explores the lived experiences of future-making. By unpacking the striking finding in our material that for these young women, future-making consists in an ongoing labour to keep the future open, we complement studies showing how ideals of success in education affect young women’s everyday life. Our analysis reveals that although this mode of future-making induces anxieties and cruel labours, young women also navigate and negotiate their uncertain conditions. We show how they manage to (partly) escape extreme performance demands and how they connect to collective futures, thus challenging the individuality of neoliberal subjectivity. We contribute to a sociology of the future by demonstrating an approach to studying the future that zooms in on the practices and affective experiences, through which futures exert agency and organise the everyday lived present.
- Cruel optimism
- Neoliberal subjectivity