Education, Individualization and Neoliberalism - Youth in Southern Europe

About Education, Individualization and Neoliberalism

Education, Individualization and Neoliberalism questions the individualization process in education in the Anglo-American context, and analyses how this process is applied in the everyday life of millennials with tertiary education in Southern Europe. Valerie Visanich explores the close affnity of this concept to neoliberalism in contemporary societies, especially by focusing on changes in education and employment. Using Beck & Beck-Gernsheim’s concept of individualization to refer to increased freedom in one’s life choices yet at the same time increased risks, Visanich unpacks the trajectories of life experiences of tertiary-educated millennials in the contemporary neoliberal Anglo-American setting. She examines how this individualized mode is adopted and adapted in countries across Southern Europe including Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain – in locations where cultural conditions habitually protect young people, often by family networks and patronage, from some of the burdens of being young today.


Table of contents

1. The Extension and Expansion of Education
2. The Currency of Academic Credentials, Consumerism and Financial Burdens
3. Unemployment in the Graduate Economy
4. Neoliberal Subjectivity: A Way of Doing Things
5. Shock-Absorbers for Youth in the South
6. 'Slow Motion' Changes in the South: The Case of a Small Southern European State
7. The Meanings and Feelings of Tertiary Educated Millennials in the South
Summary and Conclusions



“Once the preserve of a small elite, higher education in many countries today has become available to large numbers of young people. At the same time, it has become heavily commodified - opened up to market forces, rather than supported by public funding. Students are incurring huge levels of debt, against the backdrop of pronounced uncertainty in future labour markets, given the pace of change being created by technological innovation and AI. Millennials, Visanich makes clear, are caught up in a vast social and economic experiment whose outcome is largely unknown but fraught with risk and uncertainty. The book is of especial interest since it analyses these issues against the background of Southern Europe, where the individualism promoted by a market-driven ethos runs up against more traditional forms of social and cultural life.'” –  Lord Anthony Giddens, Kings College, Cambridge and the London School of Economics, UK.

““Avid travellers, digital natives, savvy consumers and foodies, but also bags of nerves, riddled by unmet expectations: we think we know what millennials are and what they face. But the winds of neoliberalism and globalisation do not blow everywhere in the same way. In this timely book, Valerie Visanich unpacks how the southern European periphery – small and archipelagic Malta, in particular – nuances millennial lives via such devices as protective welfarism and resilient kinship networks.”” –  Godfrey Baldacchino, Pro-Rector & Professor of Sociology, University of Malta, Malta.

“This is a very conscientious treatment of the transition to adulthood of highly educated 'millenials' under the hegemony of neoliberalism generally today and in the comparatively marginal circumstances of Southern Europe. Visanich's study concentrates specifically on the island of Malta. It is rich in examples and ethnographic details that are of much wider significance than the peculiarly Maltese experience.” –  Jim McGuigan, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Analysis, Loughborough University, UK