Let's start by addressing politics: In this sense I am not discussing party politics and the artificial discrimination between Democrats and Republicans or the true distinctions between liberals and conservatives. Rather, I am looking at politics as the social relations that seek, enforce, collect or ensure authority or power throughout society. My analysis of youth is inherently political, as I am almost exclusively concerned with the power relations between young people and adults throughout society.
The very definition of the word "youth" is political because every way you can define the word enforces their relationships to power:
- Labeling someone a "youth" because of their age makes them different
- Categorizing a group of people as "youth" because of their age, knowledge, opinions or actions makes them the Other
- Routinely isolating groups of people because of their age segregates them and constitutes their relation to power for the rest of their lives
- Identifying someone who is immature or inexperienced as a "youth" reinforces powerlessness and dismisses any notion of self-efficacy
- Isolating the indiscretions or accidents human beings make throughout our lifelong development as "youthful" diminishes the responsibility all people share
- Relegating freshness and vitality as "youthful" as the last definition after each of the others is cynical, to say the least.