Youth is an important time in the life of an individual. As a distinct stage in the life cycle, this period is not only defined by age, but also by a set of developmental tasks, such as finishing school, starting work, moving out of the parental home and starting a family, that reflect societal norms and expectations. But large economic and social transformations and the recent recession in the U.S. fundamentally altered the conditions under which young people are growing up because they affected their ability to achieve a level of economic security sufficient to start a life of their own. Despite this emerging consensus in the contemporary youth literature however, we currently have very limited knowledge about how certain groups of young people and especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds are faring under conditions of growing uncertainty. The Chicago Youth Voices Network (CYVN) set out to ask young people in Chicago directly about their concerns, worries and hopes.
CYVN consists of eleven city-wide youth media organizations that collaborated over the course of one year to engage youth in online polling and social media tools to create their own stories and provide a means for sharing them with the larger community. The project combines elements of pedagogy (social media training), research (develop and conduct a poll) and action (media production) in a unique way that allows young people to be meaningfully involved in every step along the way and thus, distinguishes it from conventional, primarily adults-driven research agendas. While such an approach certainly violates some basic academic rules of conduct, it provides a unique and fascinating window into the lived experience of disadvantaged youth in Chicago.
Media based on this research can be viewed at http://nuf-said.org/media-browser/