Marcellus Andrews

Marcellus Andrews earned a PhD in economics from Yale University. He currently teaches economics at Bucknell University and has taught at the University of Denver, City University of New York (CUNY), Barnard College and Columbia University. Andrews’ primary research and teaching interests include macroeconomics and economic inequality, as well as analytical and philosophical approaches to economic justice.

Abstract: Youth Labor Prison Terror: An Economist’s Meditation on Human Disposability

My presentation examines the role of intergenerational conflict, globalization, and technical change in creating and sustaining an economically surplus population of the young. By rationing access to crucial developmental resources—particularly schools, capital, and employment—our economic system creates the marginal, disproportionately young, populations who constitute the disposable raw material for other sectors of the social order. This includes those criminals who do the “dirty work” of selling their labor and bodies for the pleasure and profit of others. Similarly, terrorists are the laborers who provide social rage in orders where political control excludes the vast majority from meaningful participation in the political process. In response, violence, whether in the form of the prison or military force, is the method of choice for controlling youthful populations who have been placed outside of civil society by prevailing economic arrangements. This accidental but recurring form of intergenerational conflict is the ‘fallout’ from the concentration of wealth and therefore power within national economies in a global market economy where capital is mobile, skilled labor less so, and badly schooled labor is treated as social trash.

Cate Bowman

Cate Bowman is a PhD student of sociology at the University of Colorado. Her current research is on the increased popularity of and employer reliance on the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program, a cultural exchange visa which brings international students to the United States to engage in low-skilled employment. Bowman has a decade of experience providing labor-related services as a case manager with Safe Horizon’s Anti-Human Trafficking Program (NYC), a program associate with Seedco’s Work Rewards Program, and a human trafficking outreach provider at Colorado Legal Services. Bowman holds a master’s degree in international development from the University of Pittsburgh.

Abstract: The Rise of the J-1 Summer Work Travel Program and its Links to Youth Unemployment

I provide a contemporary snapshot of the J-1 SWT Program and explain not only why this program is on the radar of politicians and government officials, but also why I believe it merits more attention from immigration scholars. First, given the absence of scholarly attention to the J-1 SWT program, I want to describe when and why this program was created and how it has changed over time to become a program that many critics view as contributing to the American youth unemployment problem. Second, I highlight the questions that the peculiar status of the J-1 SWT visa raises regarding the relationship between immigration and labor market restructuring in the United States. Specifically, I suggest that employer use of the J-1 SWT program provides U.S. employers a flexible, alternative labor source in the current climate of immigrant restriction. I conclude with a call for the U.S. government to provide annual labor market data on employment-based J-1 programs so that policy makers and researchers can meaningfully measure potential impacts on U.S. youth unemployment.

Crispen Chinguno

Crispen Chinguno is a PhD Fellow at the International Centre for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) at the Society, Work, and Development Research Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. His research areas are labor studies, trade unions, social movements, working class agency, labor and development, and the sociology of violence. He has recently published articles in the Review of the African Political Economy, British Journal of Industrial Relations, Journal of Workplace Rights, Juridikum, Peripherie, Global Labour Journal, and the South African Labour Bulletin.

Abstract: Bailing Out Capital or Diffusing a Time Bomb? The Question of Youth Wage Subsidy in South Africa

Unemployment is one of the major challenges in post-apartheid South Africa. Using the broad definition, unemployment has persisted at over 40% for years. For the youth, however, it is more alarming at over 70%, or even higher for black youth. The youth thus constitutes the highest proportion of those in the dangerous class as postulated by Standing (2011). This represents a crisis that requires urgent intervention. Employers often eschew the youth for a number of reasons, including lack of job experience. One of the strategies proposed to address this is the introduction of an employer wage subsidy to encourage them to hire more youths. This, however, has been contentious as those opposed to the policy view it as a subsidy to employers. I review the introduction of the employer wage subsidy as intervention to youth unemployment in South Africa.

Svea Closser

Svea Closser is a medical anthropologist who studies the culture, practices, politics, and economics of global health institutions. Her most extensive fieldwork experience is in Pakistan, and recently, she has been energized by the potential power of comparative analysis across locales when studying large global health projects. Since 2005, Closser has been studying the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a 20 year, $9 billion project aiming to eliminate poliovirus from the world forever—a goal that thus far has proved elusive. Her book Chasing Polio in Pakistan (Vanderbilt University Press, 2010) explores why eradication is so difficult in Pakistan, one of the last countries with endemic polio.

Abstract: “I Need Money, That’s the Only Reason I Do It”: Youth “Volunteers,” Unemployment, and International Action in Pakistan’s Health Sector 

Karachi and Hyderabad, Pakistan, are characterized by severe wealth inequality, uncertainty due to armed conflict, and a lack of investment in urban infrastructure and services. Food and fuel prices are rising rapidly. In this context, some women choose to “volunteer” for polio vaccination campaigns for around $3 per day. This per diem is not enough to support their families, and “volunteer” work is one survival strategy among many. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) relies on millions of these low-income “volunteers” in poor countries to deliver polio vaccine door-to-door. Global health bureaucrats use the discourse of volunteerism to mask inequality within their projects. When militants in Pakistan murdered over 20 polio campaign workers, the GPEI touted the “incredible bravery” of its “volunteers,” calling them “heroes.” Such discourse, prepared for foreign donors, leaves little room for discussion of the livelihood needs of these youths.

Alexandre Frenette

Alexandre Frenette specializes in the study of work, creative industries and youth labor markets. He earned his PhD in sociology at the Graduate Center, the City University of New York (CUNY) in 2014 and is currently an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College. His dissertation, “The Intern Economy: Laboring to Learn in the Music Industry,” is an ethnographic study of early careers within the music industry.

Abstract: The Chosen, the Choosers, and the Others: How Unpaid Internships Lengthen the School-to-Work Transition and Reproduce Inequality

The transition from school-to-work has long been uncertain for students who do not attend college, but it is becoming increasingly problematic even for graduates from four-year institutions. A significant portion of college graduates do not find “career-oriented” employment shortly after graduation. Simultaneously, internships have become a prevalent strategy to train young workers in the United States, often as part of postsecondary education. Utilizing an interactionist approach, I focus on a major host of intern labor—the music industry—as a case study to investigate whether and how internships affect the education-to-employment transition. Based on participant observation at music industry companies and semi-structured interviews with interns, employees, and college personnel, I argue that interns perform what I call provisional labor. Internships are provisional, as in temporary, conditional, and ambiguous. I show how the normalization of indefinite unpaid work and the addition of pseudo-formal credentials as a pre-requisite for entry extend the transition to employment and exacerbate inequality.

Juana Gamero de Coca

Juana Gamero de Coca teaches courses on Spanish language, literature, and culture. A native of Alburquerque (Badajoz), Spain, she received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004 and, just a few months later, was teaching in Middlebury’s Spanish and Portuguese department. In addition to her doctorate, she holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree from New Mexico State University. Her research areas include 20th and 21st century Spanish culture and narrative with a focus on gender. Gamero de Coca is the author of Nación y género en la invención de Extremadura: Soñando fronteras de cielo y barro (Mirabel, 2005) and La mirada monstruosa de la memoria (Libertarias, 2009).

Abstract: Unemployment and Violence

Job markets historically offer a space in which young men can find a sense of belonging, as well as give them the economic tools to fulfill the social expectations traditionally assigned to men. However, in a time of scarce work opportunities, as in the present era, this feeling of significance is threatened. The empty space created by lack of opportunity leads to new forms of personal development, in which violence gains a new relevance. On one hand, it is transformed into an economic shortcut, such as criminal violence, but it also supposes a valuation tied to the illusory demonstration of power and strength, such as gratuitous violence. In this presentation, I try to integrate the unemployment crisis with the crisis of violence that affects Latin America so dramatically today.

Heidi Gottfried

Heidi Gottfried is professor of sociology at Wayne State University and has published several books and articles on gender and work transformation. Her latest book is titled Gender, Work and Economy: Unpacking the Global Economy (Polity, 2012). She has edited or co-edited Gendering the Knowledge Economy: Comparative Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Remapping the Humanities: Identity, Community, Memory, (Post)Modernity (Wayne State University Press, 2008), Equity in the Workplace: Gendering Workplace Policy Analysis (Lexington Books, 2004),and Feminism and Social Change: Bridging Theory and Practice (University of Illinois Press, 1995). Other publications include ”Temp(t)ing Bodies: Shaping Gender at Work in Japan” and  “Japan: The Reproductive Bargain and the Making of Precarious Employment.”

Abstract: Precariousness in Japan: After the ‘Lost Decade’

I scrutinize trends and tendencies toward widespread youth unemployment and rising nonstandard employment in the context of an increasingly precarious Japan. Through an analysis of precariousness, I reveal how a country once celebrated as a high trust system generating high economic performance lost its way during the “Lost Decade” of the 1990s. Japan was often cited for its low unemployment rate, both absolutely and relative to other countries. Low unemployment, however, masked the extent of precariousness in the labor market. Few scholars noticed that the emergence of nonstandard employment had preceded the reversal of economic fortunes. For this reason, extant models have failed to anticipate growing precariousness in society as a whole, and among women (especially mothers), and increasingly among the young and the elderly (both male and female).

Natalia Herbst

Natalia Herbst, (City of Buenos Aires), earned a Lic. in International Studies from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, Argentina (UTDT), as well as a scholarship from the Fulbright Commission Young Leaders Program. She teaches at UTDT, where she currently co-dictates a seminar about international relations through film. She researches issues of international cooperation and development in the Global South, with a particular focus on Haiti, Brazil, and India. This work was published in Foreign Affairs Latinoamerica and the Iberoamerican Journal of Development Studies. Presently, Herbst manages a team that advises the Deputy Chief of Government of the City of Buenos Aires on diversity and inclusion policies for youth.

Abstract: The Inactives: How Can Public Policy Encourage the Engagement of the Youth in the Labor Market? 

My aim is to characterize the segment of the 15- to 29-year-olds in Buenos Aires that falls into the category of non-economically active population (EAP). Results from the 2012 Home Annual Survey show that while the city’s EAP is within ECLAC’s estimations for urban areas in Argentina, there is a considerable inequality when the numbers are disaggregated by sub-units (comunas). This inequality is observed consistently in four adjacent comunas in the southwest of the city where high rates of inactivity are registered, leading to the presumption that certain characteristics of this geographical area, along with certain social indicators, may affect the increased number of inactive young people. I will compare the communities with EAP to the two comunas with best labor insertion rates and complement the results with further data about habits and cultural practices, motives for abandoning the education system, and motivations to stop looking or never look for employment.

Ava Kerr

Ava Kerr is a 2012 graduate of Middlebury College, who lives in New Orleans and works for the Urban League College Track, a program designed to be the catalyst for under-resourced high school students to obtain a college degree. In addition, she is helping to open a boxing club that will also serve as a community space.

Ange Lendja Ngnemzué

Ange Bergson Lendja Ngnemzué holds a PhD in philosophy of sciences from University of Paris I, as well as a PhD in political science from University of Paris VIII. He is the author of books and articles on illegal immigration, which he tried to explain by examining culture, borders/frontiers, and African migrants’ subjectivity in times of crisis. He is an assistant professor and consultant in social sciences in Cameroon (Protestant University of Central Africa and University of Dschang), the United States (Boston University and Middlebury College), Japan (Kyoto University), and France (University of Paris VIII).

Abstract: Fighting Unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Illegal Emigration as Youth Response?

In this contribution, I examine the problem of illegal emigration among African youth as a response to scarce employment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa. I suggest that if they leave the continent in search of better pastures abroad, there is more than just the search for employment to be read into young Africans’ decisions to leave the continent. I argue that the outmigration decisions of the unemployed are part of a political project. This presentation puts Africa’s Youth Unemployment and Outmigration Decisions in historical context. To do this, I follow three distinct periods: (a) early independence, (b) the authoritarian and neo-patrimonial era, and (c) the neoliberal era. The analysis reveals that unemployed young Africans leave the continent in response to elites’ decisions during each of these eras.

Hanna Mahon

Hanna Mahon graduated from Middlebury College in February 2014 with an independent major in peace and justice studies and minor in education studies. She is spending the spring in Middlebury learning how to teach, tap trees for making maple syrup, and project films at the local movie theatre.

Ciro Milione

Ciro Milione is assistant professor at the Law and Economics School of Córdoba University in Spain. He holds an LLB and a PhD in constitutional law, for which he wrote a dissertation on “The Influence of European Court for Human Rights on Italian and Spanish Constitutional Case Law” about the Due Process Right. He is also professor of comparative political institutions (Spain-USA) for PRESCHO, a consortium of six American schools for study abroad in Spain, as well as a researcher at the Center of Andalusian Studies Foundation (“Fundación Centro de Estudios Andaluces”) in Seville. His research areas are human rights, regionalism, welfare states, and bioethics.

Abstract: Youth and Work Policy in Spain: The Andalusian Case

In Spain, the percentage of unemployed youth reaches 56.14%. Expressions like “jobless generation” or “lost generation” are frequently used to describe the social phenomenon concerning the youth population of Spain born after the 1990s: lack of job stability, social stagnation, and, definitely, lack of hope for the future. It is worth noting, however, that Article 35.1 of the Spanish Constitution establishes that work is a fundamental right and even a legal obligation for all. The national government created several initiatives to rein in youth unemployment, but these policies have not produced any positive effect so far. Regional governments, such as in Andalucía, a Spanish region that ranks first in unemployment statistics, have also begun to enact legislation to combat the problem. I aim to analyze the organic and systematic causes of youth unemployment in Andalucía, as well as the effectiveness of newly implemented policies for the future.

Diane Negra

Diane Negra is professor of film studies and screen culture, as well as head of film studies at University College Dublin. She is the author, editor or co-editor of eight books, the most recent of which is Gendering the Recession: Media and Culture in an Age of Austerity (edited with Yvonne Tasker), which will be published by Duke University Press in March 2014.

Abstract: Gendering the Recession in Ireland: Unemployment, Migration and the Post-Celtic Tiger Era

The global financial crisis has heightened a range of inequalities, not least inequalities of gender, class, and opportunity. In this presentation, I examine the gendering of recession in the Irish context, where an unprecedented period of growth has given way to a vertiginous experience of economic contraction.  In Ireland’s transformation from a seeming capitalist utopia to something different, cultural conceptions of masculinity and femininity play a key role.  Popular texts, including advertisements and viral videos, speak to a fundamental imperative to stabilize masculinity and forward a narrative of restoration that includes the reinstatement of “correctly” gendered roles and national “authenticity.”  A fantasy of male mobility is sustained across a range of forms emerging as one of the key tropes of recessionary Irish media.  This commitment to male mobility as a form of enterprise in turn structures national discourse on youth unemployment and mobility in an era marked by a return to net emigration. Most recently, the Irish government has sought to incentivize tourism under the auspices of a marketing campaign called “The Gathering.” This plan emerges from a government that only 10 years ago (flush with the spirit of “Celtic Tigerism”) sought to police the boundaries of Irishness through legislation that narrowed previously expansive definitions of national citizenship just as immigration was surging.  Thus, dynamics of labor, tourism, and travel in Ireland are increasingly marked by a paradox in which strenuous efforts are being made to entice visitors in, even as the nation returns to sending its own citizens out.

Robert E. Prasch

Robert E. Prasch is a professor of economics at Middlebury College where he teaches courses monetary theory and policy, macroeconomics, economic history, and the history of economic thought. He is the author of over 120 academic articles, book chapters, and reviews, along with numerous editorials and interviews in newspapers, radio, and online media, including The Huffington Post, New Economic Perspectives, Translation Exercises, Salon, and Common Dreams. The most recent of his three authored or co-edited books is How Markets Work: Supply, Demand and the ‘Real World’ (Edward Elgar, 2008).

Abstract: On the Political Economy of Youth Unemployment

My presentation opens with a brief survey of the size and scope of the current crisis of mass unemployment, followed by a review of some recent scholarship on the long-term consequences of being young and unemployed over a sustained period. Next, it describes and refutes the two most prominent “enabling myths” put forward by the major political parties of the United States and Western Europe that, collectively, exonerate them from perceiving a need to seriously address the problem. Here, the focus is on (1) the right’s favored solution of “tax cuts conjoined with austerity and wage cutting,” and (2) the center-left’s nostrums about “more education and better training.” I close with an argument in favor of the government serving as the Employer of Last Resort (ELR), with special attention devoted to demonstrating that such a policy is economically viable under current conditions. It is, however, admitted that ELRs face political obstacles in a plutocracy that would be less salient in a democracy.

Barrett Smith

Barrett Smith is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from Middlebury College in May 2013 with a degree in classics and a minor in physics. After graduation, Barrett worked for a short time as a Match Corps Member and Teacher Resident in Boston before moving back to Cincinnati. He is an aspiring educator, and he currently works as a substitute teacher, as well as studies education, Latin and philosophy at the University of Cincinnati.

David Stoll

David Stoll teaches anthropology at Middlebury College. He has been doing research with a Guatemalan migration stream since 2007. In El Norte or Bust! How Migration Fever and Microcredit Produced a Financial Crash in a Latin American Town (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), he argues that migration is being impelled by deepening levels of household debt. His earlier books include Fishers of Men or Founders of Empire? (Zed Books, 1983), Is Latin America Turning Protestant? (University of California Press, 1991), Between Two Armies in the Ixil Towns of Guatemala (Columbia University Press, 1993), and Rigoberta Menchú and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans (Westview Press, 2007). He is from Michigan and studied at Ann Arbor before earning his PhD from Stanford University.

Abstract: Youth Unemployment in a Mayan Indian Town in Guatemala

National socioeconomic indices show that all but the most privileged young Guatemalans face tremendous hurdles in obtaining remunerative employment. In the absence of state-supported safety nets, parents seek income and old-age security by producing large numbers of children, such that, at current fertility rates, the Guatemalan population will double in 29 years. Meanwhile, low rates of taxation prevent the state from becoming an Employer of Last Resort (ELR).  Sundry inefficiencies prevent Guatemalan manufacturers from competing with East Asian manufacturers despite their manifest geographic advantages. Employment is always available in the agricultural sector, but youth whose expectations have been raised by exposure to electronic media do not regard the pay as remunerative. After reviewing national data, I will focus on the Ixil Maya boomtown of Nebaj where reconstruction aid, credits, and remittances from the United States have raised expectations and educational levels but not employment that is satisfactory to the town’s youth.

Pavlina Tcherneva

Pavlina Tcherneva is assistant professor of economics at Bard College. She previously taught at Franklin and Marshall College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Tcherneva conducts research in the areas of public policy and monetary theory, and she has collaborated with policymakers from Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Turkey, and the United States on developing and evaluating various job creation programs. Her articles have appeared in the Review of Social Economy, Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, International Journal of Political Economy, Rutgers Journal of Law and Urban Policy, among others. She is the co-editor of Full Employment and Price Stability: The Macroeconomic Vision of William S. Vickrey (Edward Elgar, 2004). Tcherneva holds a BA in mathematics and economics from Gettysburg College and an MA and PhD in economics from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Abstract: Eliminating Youth Unemployment: A Proposal

I look at the evolution of unemployment in the postwar era with a special focus on the Great Recession. I offer a macroeconomic examination of the causes and distributional effects of this ongoing problem and analyze several conventional solutions. The dynamics of youth unemployment will be examined in this context. I develop a proposal for eliminating youth unemployment that is inspired by the Employer of Last Resort (ELR) and job guarantee programs found in the academic literature, as well as through various direct job creation programs that have been put into practice around the world. The current proposal has two objectives: (1) to provide young people with a much needed job safety net that serves as a springboard to future opportunities, and (2) to mobilize, harness, and develop their creative energies in an effort to advance the public purpose. The proposal considers the social entrepreneurial sector as a possible institutional vehicle for delivering such a program.

Stephen Young

Stephen Young is assistant professor of geography and international studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received a PhD in geography in 2010 from the University of Washington. His dissertation research examined the commercialization of microfinance programs in Andhra Pradesh. More recently, he has been conducting fieldwork on the expansion of private colleges in northwest Uttar Pradesh. Both projects focus on the contradictory ways in which educated young men are embroiled in these processes as entrepreneurs or activists. His work has appeared in journals including Antipode, Economy & Society, Political Geography, and the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Abstract: Ambivalent Attachments: Youth and Economic Insecurity in India

Interpretations of youth unemployment tend to pitch young people as either harbingers of positive social change or as politically naïve and prone to impulsive, destructive actions. Drawing on fieldwork in North India, I argue that the strategies through which young people navigate economic insecurity demonstrate greater ambivalence than is often assumed. I focus on a cohort of lower middle-class men who had initially aspired toward securing salaried, government jobs. However, when the government further privatized the higher education sector, they found themselves well placed to establish their own colleges and profit from a new generation of students. I explore how these men styled themselves as entrepreneurs who could quickly adjust in a rapidly changing economy. I further highlight how the men assuaged the moral anxieties they sometimes felt about their actions by pointing to their own marginality in relation to India’s economic “take-off.”

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