Stephen Young

Opposition and Opportunism: Cultures of Enterprise Among North Indian Youth

Much of the scholarship associated with economic change in south Asia has focused on the upper middle class or the poor. This presentation examines social change through the lens of interstitial places and populations. Stephen focuses on educated young men in the provincial city of Meerut who find themselves “in-between” in multiple senses: between youth and adulthood, the rich and poor, and the rural and urban. He argues that this “in-betweenness” shapes how they navigate a changing economic and institutional landscape. In particular, he shows how they produce novel cultures of enterprise that draw both on neoliberal discourses and older, rural ideas of shrewd improvisation.

Stephen Young’s current research explores this question through a focus on educated, unemployed young men in northwest UP. He is currently tracking the lives of several young men as they seek to challenge discrimination and corruption in public office or carve out new economic opportunities. A current focus of his is on the kinds of work spaces and cultures of enterprise that are emerging among youth in this region.