Paternalism à la carte

Vignetta di Arnald -

Vignetta di Arnald -

Translation: So tell me, what internship do you want to do when you’re older?

Paternalism makes me sick. It really does.
In the particular field of “young”, especially when it has to do with jobs and careers, paternalism seems to rule in the media (and not only). What does this have to do with internships and my project? More than you think.

Now, there are different kinds of patronizing.
There is the cringing and relatively straightforward students-are-unprepared-and-need-to-suck-it-up kind (should we really talk about those t-shirts?)
There is the more subtle portraying of young and their difficulties in the current economy with a touch in the title, which ends up talking about the needed adjustments when moving back to mom and dad (I mean, seriously).
There is the generalized idea that no matter what young people do, they never quite “get it”, like in this article by the New York Times where according to an interviewed career counselor, students should pretty much always say yes, virtually to any job. She sounds like someone I knew who told me: “if you refuse then don’t come and complain that all you get is an unpaid internship”.

Whenever a young person tries to step up maybe letting an opportunity go by, it is not seen as “brave” but simply “irresponsible” “stupid”

So let me get this straight: considering the status of the economy, if a fresh graduate dares to refuse a job because it’s uninteresting, then that fresh graduate is behaving irresponsibly and not understanding how bad the economy is. If a fresh graduate (or a student) refuses an unpaid internship, that fresh graduate (or student) is being irresponsible and not investing enough because internships prepare you fort the REAL bad spooky world.
So, no matter what a young graduate or student does, whenever a bold choice is made – saying no – that behavior is quickly branded with a paternalistic flavor of “you don’t get it”.
If I let the reasoning go where it is supposed to go, whenever a young person makes a decision about his/her career and tries to step up maybe letting an opportunity go by, it is not seen as “brave” or “opinionated” but simply “irresponsible” or plain “stupid”.

Has anyone ever considered that what the media like to call the “young generation” (or “generation fill in the space“) is in fact not a group at all? Is no one coming to scream at the crime of generalization?

This talking often comes from those whose choices have contribued to a failed economic system

Because of the project I am drawn to talking about internships with very different people and the thing that always strikes me is the underlying argument – very much present in the media – that young people have to sacrifice themselves, no matter how many qualifications they have, no matter how much experience they have.
The idea that asking for recognition (read: wage) during or when barely out of university is totally crazy seems to be present as mindset in a lot of the discourses I am hearing. Be it the mainstream media or the general public, many subscribe to this idea that being young means accepting whatever comes because “the older ones know more than you do”. My beloved grandmother used a different expression, much like “you will have to see a lot of water flow by under the bridge”. Different words, same meaning. SUCK IT UP.

What I always find very funny when hearing these arguments is that this talking of sacrifice often comes from the same people who occupy inexplicably highly payed positions and whose choices have contribued to a failed economic system that will soon knock on our doors (the young slacks) for the cheques.

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See the exhibition

Berlin: Go to exhibition’s archive

March 5th to 26th, ACUD Galerie, Veteranenstraße 21 (see ACUD press release). Tuesday to Sunday, 2 to 8 pm.
The exhibition in Berlin is over – thanks to everybody for coming!

Hamburg: Go to exhibition’s archive

April, University of Hamburg – April 16th to 30th, University of Hamburg, Foyer des Unigebäudes VMP8, Fakultät für Erziehungswissenschaft Von-Melle-Park 8. Mondays to Fridays from 7 am to 9.30 pm and on Saturdays from 7 am to 4 pm. The building is closed on Sundays. See the exhbition post and the CampusGrün announcement for more information. The exhibition in Hamburg is over – thanks to everybody for coming!

Naples: Go to exhibition’s archive

May 10th to 31st, Archeologiattiva, via Duomo 228, Napoli.
Mondays to Saturdays, from 10 am to 20 pm.
Vernissage on the 10th of May with readings on the topic of internships by Raffaella R. Ferré, author of “Santa Precaria”. More about the exhibition.
The exhibition in Naples is over – thanks to everybody for coming!

Geneva: Go to exhibition’s archive

June 12th to 18th, University of Geneva, Uni Mail Bd du Pont-d’Arve 40, 1205 Genève; Horaires: lundi au vendredi : 7h30 – 23h; samedi : 7h30 – 17h30; dimanche : fermé. The exhibition is over! Thank you all for coming.


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