Immigrant Youth, Hip Hop, and Online Games: Alternative Approaches to the Inclusion of Working-Class and Second Generation Migrant Teens

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9781498500920: Immigrant Youth, Hip Hop, and Online Games: Alternative Approaches to the Inclusion of Working-Class and Second Generation Migrant Teens
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Anti-Muslim racism with its attendant xenophobia and (the fear of) Salafist hostility are two of the most essential problems facing Europe today. Both result from the enormous failure of the continent’s integration policies, which have either insisted on immigrants’ rigid assimilation or left immigrants to fend for themselves. This book radically breaks with contemporary approaches to immigrant assimilation and integration. Instead it examines non-institutional approaches that facilitate immigrant inclusion through the examples of three alternative small-scale projects that have impacted the lives of urban working-class youth, specifically with second-generation immigrant roots, in Vienna, Austria. These projects involve online gaming, hip hop as an art form, and social work as emancipatory pedagogic practice (commonly referred to as street work). This book investigates working-class teenagers’ social networks and describes an online game designed to provide a platform for interaction between non-immigrant and immigrant youth who usually either do not interact or display prejudice when they engage each other. Hip hop can provide both a necessary outlet for alienated youth to articulate their frustrations and a highly effective tool for transforming inclusion conflicts. Social work with marginalized youth is crucial for successful inclusion. Specifically individual support in small-scale settings provides a unique opportunity to open up spaces for discouraged and disaffected teenagers to gain self-worth and dignity. While the book focuses on identity formation and the teenagers’ agency, it argues that only projects that include both “newcomer” and “native” can aid in overcoming exclusionary attitudes and policies, eventually allowing some form of social bonding to take place.

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About the Author:

Barbara Franz is professor of political science at Rider University.

Review:

This is a fascinating book which reminds us of the pluralism, equality, social classes, interculturalism, and richness of everyday life in modern societies. Migrant-origin youth in Austria are very well depicted in this work referring to their constant struggle in the processes of political, social, and cultural recognition vis-a-vis majority society. The reader can also trace the sources of radicalization of migrant-origin youth as well as the ways in which they translate their ongoing structural exclusion to productive forms of expression such as rap music. (Ayhan Kaya, Istanbul Bilgi University)

Franz is to be congratulated for having made an insightful contribution to understanding the situation of immigrant workers and native Austrians’ responses to them. She offers a vision of hope, focusing on small-scale creative projects which have made a difference for otherwise marginalized second-generation immigrant teenagers in Vienna. Rejecting traditional approaches based on assimilation and integration, the author argues for a model of inclusion, whereby immigrants and natives enter into habitual interaction, without the pressure to accept a common culture. (Sabrina P. Ramet, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Franz’s groundbreaking book is must reading for anyone concerned about the appeal of violent extremism among second generation Muslims in the West and the lack of effective counter measures. She describes and analyzes non-conventional ideas and social work projects in Vienna, Austria, utilizing computer games and hip hop in meet-up spaces where second-generation ‘immigrants’ find self-worth and common ground with young ‘natives.’ (Brigitte Nacos, Columbia Univeristy)

This book has its basis and frames in a concern for the so-called second generation immigrant youth, many of whom tend to remain “Others” in their societies, in spite of being born as citizens of them. The volume contains insightful and sharp-eyed analyses about how societal inclusion of “Others” is possible through identity political interventions that pay attention to and strengthen their agencies in local, immediate environments. The context for these analyses is Austria, but the continuously tightening xenophobic policies and discourses in many western societies mean that the notions of this volume are applicable to many other European countries as well. The book offers the most actual, interesting and mind-opening material to those in charge of youth policy, youth work, and youth research. (Päivi Harinen, University of Eastern Finland)

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