“What kind of generation is this?” - A social anthropological study about youth climate activism in Sweden

University essay from Lunds universitet/Graduate School

Abstract: The climate crisis is upon us and our planet is crying out for help. This thesis is a story about the young people that have chosen to answer the call and take action. The purpose has been to explore how youth perform and internalize climate activism, by emphasizing emotions, activist performances, how they perceive their own movement or organization, other expressions of climate activism, the potential risks and how they relate to their opponents. The studies ethnographic material derives from interviews and participatory observations, and was discussed with the help of a theoretical framework containing performance theory, social movement theory, emotions, communitas, liminality and collective effervescence. The study yielded several results but the more pronounced may be summarized as: The reckoning that activism can be understood as moral identity-work and an ongoing negotiation –where morality, emotion and action merge; The importance of social ties and group belonging; The momentousness of having organizational values and strategies that align with the individual’s own values and morality in the choice of which organization to join; And the complicated reality of activism from a culturally submissive position –where one’s opinions, knowledge and actions are dismissed or exploited.

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