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British Youth and Collective Identity Some key themes

How are British youth represented in the media? • Analyse the ways in which the media represent one group of people that you have studied.


let down


Young people are‌ dangerous

abandoned lost

How does Fish Tank link with other texts? What do they say about youth and identity?

Which of these phrases are the most important themes for the texts we have studied? Pick a handful

British youth are represented as being‌

In search of belonging In About A Girl the protagonist has no sense of belonging: she is often shown as socially isolated and outside of groups (outside of the pub; on a wasteland practicing dance routines). She inhabits unused, identity-less places (such as the now-purposeless canal and the postindustrial wasteland), and these landscapes provide a visual metaphor for her own sense of placelessness and lack of belonging. She lacks a place to belong, and as such lacks an identity. Instead, she seeks out a sense of belonging through the world she constructs: the imaginary girl group, her idolisation and imitation of Britney, and her ability to ‘hide things’ from her Mum and construct a secret life all demonstrate her search for identity and belonging.

Pick a handful of points from the following slide and make these the skeleton of your essay for Collective Identity

Conflict between youth and adult world

Youth as alienated

Youth as violent/ threatening

Youth as anti-social

Youth as damaged

Youth assert/ get identity from tribes more than from family

Broken Britain

Youth as a stage of identity formation/ identity assertion

Youth as victim

Young people express their identity through consumerism

Young people express/ find their identity through the tribes they join

Belonging to a tribe gives members a sense of belonging, collectivity and identity

Belonging to a tribe reinforces your own values and sense of self, giving members as sense of security

There has been a proliferation of niche tribes

Subcultures have fragmented and diversified, creating new ways off audiences to express their identity (and new markets to sell to)

Membership of tribes is no longer as delineated and distinct as in the past. Young people now take a more fluid/ pick’n’mix approach, borrowing parts of different subcultures and mixing them together.

Past styles are borrowed, but meanings are discarded.

Expressing identity through consumerism

Shifting/ Fluid/ Changing/ Evolving

Fragmented identity/ Multiple identities

Pick n mix/ Bricolage


Play/ Trying on/ Experiment

Identity is discovered; it is not innate

“Media texts often represent adolescence as a period of identity formation, self-discovery, and conflict.”

Rite of passage/ Coming of age


Youth as a period identity formation

Forgotten youth/ Directionless youth

National identity and landscape/ The meaning of Britishness/ British values

Are representations of youth simplistic or complex?

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