The economic deregulation that followed the East Asian financial crisis and recession in the 1990s blocked youth from the labor market. This issue investigates the resulting youth labor crisis and its predominant manifestations—youth unemployment and underemployment. The contributors examine these phenomena not as social anomalies but as the new faces of labor for youth. They conceptualize this situation as emblematic of a global crisis in capitalism and study how the politics of youth unemployment and underemployment emerge interconnected in China, Japan, and South Korea. The essays highlight how political leaders in these countries gamble with the futures of their young people to secure their places in neoliberal globalization, disconnecting national futures from personal ones.
Gabriella Lukács is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of Scripted Affects, Branded Selves: Television, Subjectivity, and Capitalism in 1990s Japan, also published by Duke University Press.
Contributors: Cho Hae-joang, Jennifer Jihye Chun, Mark Driscoll, Michael Fisch, Ju Hui Judy Han, Anita Koo, Gabriella Lukács, Pun Ngai, Xia Zhang