Adolescence in times of social-ecological crisis. Perspectives for social pedagogical analysis and research

Marie Frühauf, University of Wuppertal

Abstract: Against the background of current multiple crises, above all the social-ecological crisis, the question arises how the phase of adolescence and its arrangement in fields of social pedagogy/social work are affected by this. Quantitative research shows that many young people are worried about the future because of the climate crisis. These surveys also show that the experience of the crisis is embedded in class and gender relations. However, there is a lack of qualitative research on this issue in general and on social pedagogical responses in particular. This article develops a perspective for social pedagogical research that focuses on both the affective and the social dimensions of adolescence. On this basis, initial reflections are made on the significance of the social-ecological crisis for negotiating adolescence between professionals and adolescents in the field of Open Child and Youth Work.

Keywords: Adolescence; social-ecological crisis; social pedagogy; class and gender relations

1           Introduction

Crises are part of modern societies in general. As a product of modernity itself, (social) pedagogy has always been constitutively linked to crisis and its problematisation (Dollinger 2006). Several contemporary sociological diagnoses for the 21st century emphasise the emergence and consolidation of various crises as characteristic (Brand 2009; Brand & Wissen 2011; Demirović et al. 2011; Demirović 2013; Ertugrul & Bauer 2023; Ludwig 2022). Even before the triad of climate, war and pandemic dominated public media discourse on crises, these studies diagnosed a historically specific constellation characterised by the clash of several global crisis phenomena. In these diagnoses, the social-ecological crisis is exceptional compared to other dimensions due to the existential threat of climate crisis and the extinction of thousands of species (Brand & Wissen 2011). As climate crisis raises fundamental questions about the ways of life and work in the global North, of production and consumption, it is not only an ecological crisis, but also a social one. The “fossil-capitalist mode of production and way of life” (Brand 2009, p. 2), which is based on a belief in growth, externalisation of one’s own costs (Lessenich 2020) and a seemingly unlimited consumption of resources, turns out to be destructive to its own foundations (Brand & Wissen 2011).

These facts on climate crisis have been known for decades, so the social-ecological crisis can hardly be regarded as an eruptive event. But due to the current encounter and entanglement of various crises, it appears to “come much more immediately and threateningly close to the people” (Göppel et al. 2023, p. 10). Even without the immediate experience of a flood or another disaster, the social-ecological crisis is becoming more present and perceptible. This seems to be especially true for the younger generation (Schnetzer, Hampel, & Hurrelmann 2023). Young people have their lives mostly ahead of them and are particularly concerned about their future in the face of various crises. In this respect, adolescents are a special group for various reasons. They experience the social-ecological instabilities in the context of enculturation processes, which can be situated in the tension between entering in the social order and taking up social positions on the one hand and the desire to find new, individual paths on the other. Both processes are fundamentally affected by the social-ecological crisis. This questions not only the integration in previous ways of life and work, but also the possibility of change or the new (King 2013) no longer seems to be a given due to the increasing destruction of our own livelihoods. At the same time, certain hopes are associated with “youth”. Especially in times of crisis youth is often imagined as a mobilising force for social transformation processes (Böhnisch 2020, pp. 154-157; Stamm 2021, p. 160).

So how exactly is adolescence affected by the experience of the social-ecological crisis? This is especially relevant for Social pedagogy/social work, as it is involved in shaping adolescent processes for its addressees. The social-ecological crisis is likely not only being brought into it via the adolescents and their concerns, but it is presumably also getting ‘much closer’ to the professionals, who may have to deal with ambivalent affects in the face of the crisis.

In this article I will offer a perspective for social pedagogical research on adolescence that recognizes the significance of the social-ecological crisis for adolescents in fields of social pedagogy/social work. In order to do this, empirical findings on adolescents’ current experience of crisis will first be presented. The focus here is on the indications to the social embedding of the crisis experience, as this is considered particularly important for a social pedagogical perspective on the current crisis. On this basis I will then outline a theoretical perspective on adolescence that takes both the psychological-affective dynamics associated with adolescence as well as their location in the social into account. These considerations are then applied to the field of Open Child and Youth Work.

2           Adolescents in times of socio-ecological crisis. Empirical findings from Germany

How do adolescents cope with the social-ecological crisis? According to Ulrich Bauer there is already a “crisis socialisation in the 21st century” (Bauer 2023). However, how young people are currently experiencing and dealing with the social-ecological crisis has been researched primarily in quantitative studies. The surveys indicate that various crises have indeed become particularly significant for them. Even if the effects of the social-ecological crisis in Germany remain largely abstracted from their everyday lives, it has an affective resonance among adolescents as a potential or foreseeable threat which certainly stands out from other crises. As the 18th Shell study from 2019 notes:

While the economic situation and increasing poverty as well as fear of unemployment or not finding an apprenticeship place were the main problems cited by adolescents until 2010, the picture has changed significantly since then. Currently, almost three out of four young people name environmental pollution as the main problem that scares them, followed by fear of terrorist attacks (66%) and climate change (65%). (Albert, Hurrelmann, & Quenzel 2019, p. 15)

The latest results of a Sinus study from 2022 point in a similar direction. Worries about war have been added here (56%), but climate change is still one of the biggest worries of adolescents (47%) (SINUS-Jugendforschung 2022, p. 28). Environmental pollution (46%) and energy crises (44%) are also issues of concern for many young people (ibid.). In this regard, the Sinus study indicates milieu-specific differences: For 43% of the ‘formally low educated’, but for 58% of the ‘formally highly educated’, the issue of climate change is very important (ibid., p. 80). Even if this discrepancy is quite clear, it also shows that climate change is definitely relevant for quite a few adolescents with a low level of education. In addition, according to the study, girls are more likely to be very afraid of the topic (43% compared to 37% of adolescents overall). The most recent figures come from the “Trend Study on Youth in Germany” by Schnetzer, Hampel, & Hurrelmann 2023. The trend here is also comparable with the results of the Sinus study: worries about climate change remains high (52%), even though worries about inflation (63%) and about war in Europe have moved ahead of it. It is also interesting that the trend study shows that concerns about climate change affects younger respondents (14-29 years) significantly more than older respondents (30-49 years, cf. ibid., p. 11).

Adolescents are therefore becoming much more conscious of the climate crisis. However, speaking of a general “Generation Greta” (Hurrelmann & Albert 2020) is hardly convincing, not only because there are indications of socio-structural differences in how the crisis is experienced. It can also be assumed that the associated forms of dealing with it differ. Some adolescents respond to the threat of climate change with political engagement (Sommer et al. 2020), whereby there are differences regarding socio-structural dimensions: The educated middle class is overrepresented among the Fridays for Future demonstrators (ibid., pp. 29f), as well as female adolescents, at least during the first demonstrations (ibid.; 28).[1] Böhnisch’s assumption that economically disadvantaged young people “have to use up so much energy to cope with their everyday lives that no surplus can develop for activities and interests that go beyond everyday life” (Böhnisch 2020, p. 55) may be convincing in terms of visible political engagement. However, this does not mean that the social-ecological crisis does not play a role for such adolescents. What kind of active strategies they choose instead has not yet been researched. Pia Niessen and Felix Peter add at least two other strategies of how adolescents deal with the fears of climate crisis: Denial and displacement strategies on the one hand and a kind of paralysis on the other (Niessen & Peter 2022, p. 139, on the appeal of populism and conspiracy theories for adolescents see Ertugrul 2023; Körner 2023; Albert, Hurrelmann, & Quenzel 2019, pp. 16f). No class-, milieu- or gender-specific differences are applied here, but it can be assumed that all strategies can be found in all social classes, even if the reasons for this may vary depending on the social circumstances.

Qualitative studies on how adolescents currently experience and deal with the social-ecological crisis, how it affects adolescence-specific dynamics and how this can be linked to their social and biographical situation have been lacking to date, as have studies on their negotiation in contexts of social pedagogy/social work. Social pedagogical research in this area must consider both the subjective-affective dimension of experiencing and dealing with the crisis, as well as the social and intersectional embedding of this phase which is indicated by the referred studies.

3        Theoretical reflections on adolescence and its social embedding

Adolescence cannot be defined by a specific age group, nor can it be determined solely by the biological processes of sexual maturation; the age ranges are too different to form a clear group on this basis alone. Its foundation in the biological concept of puberty, however, is not convincing. The phase of adolescence does indeed go hand in hand with the confrontation of physical changes (Flaake 2012). However, adolescence does not necessarily begin with an urge of the drive or something similar, as women’s and gender studies has shown (Hagemann-White 1993). Besides these two definitions, adolescence is often associated with specific developmental tasks (e.g. through Erik H. Erikson or Klaus Hurrelmann). Such approaches tends to have brought forth very normative models which must be problematised in their claim of universality. For quite a long time, adolescence was primarily discussed as a stage of life for middle-class boys, ideally represented in an oedipal father-son constellation: According to this idea, the son of the middle-class nuclear family gets into a generational conflict with his father, at the end of which he enters society (enculturation) as an individual (individuation) on the condition of the renunciation of the drive (Triebverzicht). Economically marginalised boys, or girls, did not seem to require such a moratorium, so manual labour or the preparation for marriage and motherhood did not require a phase of “self-discovery”. Initially established as a moratorium for bourgeois boys, adolescence became accessible to non-bourgeois classes and girls only in the second half of the 20th century. Nevertheless, both gender and class remain central structural dimensions of adolescence until today (Liebsch 2012), which is not always considered in the development approaches (see, for example, the critique of Hurrelmann by Hagemann-White 1993, pp. 68f).[2]

In order to take the task of enculturation and individuation seriously for this phase, and to fully understand it in its social embedding, it can be useful to draw on perspectives that attempt to grasp these processes in both their social and psychological dimensions. Building on the work of Vera King, adolescence can be defined sociologically as the organisation of generation change in modernised societies. Adolescence then refers to the “regulation of the transition from one generation to another” (ibid., p. 14), to “the respective social form [...] with which modernised societies prepare the ‘new cultural participants’ for their entry into the ‘continuous generational transitions’ (...)” (ibid., p. 62), as King formulates in reference to Karl Mannheim. In contrast to the development approaches, adolescence is thus traced back to the underlying social organisation of the relationship between the generations. This is based on the (anthropological) assumption of a fundamental care relation between the generations (King 2012, pp. 14 & 64, similarly Winterhager-Schmid 2010). This relation is shaped by society, not only through the social arrangement of family relationships, but also in the form of collectively organised welfare state structures such as social pedagogy/social work.

Adolescence is thus firmly located between the transmission of the given on the one hand and the enabling of ‘the new’ on the other. This key definition of King and its dual direction can be found in many theoretical definitions of adolescence (it goes back to Schleiermacher, see ibid., pp. 113f, for social pedagogy: Winkler 2002, p. 45). In this sense, adolescence not only serves to ensure cultural transmission, to pass cultural goods so that they will continue to exist in the future, as is usually associated with the concepts of enculturation. Rather, adolescence is also always associated with the ‘emergence of the new’ (King 2013) and therefore it stands also for the possibility of transformation. In King’s concept of adolescence, this possibility is linked to the task of individuation, i.e. the separation and detachment from parents, from their generation, their background, etc. (King 2013, pp. 39f & 45-47).

The definition of adolescence between the passing on of the given and its transformation already points to a specific (affective) ambivalence that is structurally inherent in this phase for both sides of the generational relationship, young people and adults alike. In order to grasp this ambivalence, King now combines her sociological perspective on adolescence with psychoanalytical considerations. On the adult side, the ambivalence lies in the fact that, in the best case, they get gratification through their productive transmission (ibid., p. 64). The other side of this, however, is that this process also prepares their own replacement. The process of replacement confronts the parents’ generation with their own finiteness and mortality (ibid., pp. 66f). For adolescents, the ambivalent tension can be seen in the fact that, on the one hand, they find a protected space in which they can experiment new things without having to take on the responsibility demanded of adults. On the other hand, they are denied full participation in power and decision-making positions (ibid., p. 65). Furthermore, this phase is associated with enormous constraints and pressure. During this phase, educational biographies are set in motion that have crucially consequences for later adult life. In addition, new demands for flexibility, optimisation and individualisation are becoming increasingly important in this phase (e.g. Ecarius 2019).

Ambivalence and conflictual potential arise not only from the generational tensions, but also from the significance of class relations in this phase. The enculturation of the new culture participants always includes the “passing on of social positions” (King 2013, p. 62). The importance of class relations for adolescence was emphasised very early on by Siegfried Bernfeld. He described the moratorium of adolescence as an ‘extended puberty’ (gestreckte Pubertät) and pointed out its inherent class dimension through the concept of “social place” (Bernfeld 1974, p. 210). The social place can be understood as the “social conditions” and “social determinants of psychological processes” (ibid., p. 209, see also Müller 1995, pp. 69-86): “The question of the historical aspect and the milieu imprint of a psychological process can be summarised as the aspect of the ‘social place’” (Bernfeld 1974, p. 210). Therefore, the social place does not only mean a position in the economic structure, but also includes the effects of this position both on the social valuation of psychological processes (ibid., p. 212) as well as on the psychological processes themselves. Even if for Bernfeld there is no determinism between the social background and its psychic-affective resonance (ibid., p. 224), he assumes that the social place is a “place of affect” (Affektstätte) (ibid., pp. 222f) that offers “a different chance of development for the bourgeois and the proletarian child” (ibid., p. 223). So the way in which typical adolescent conflicts can be acted out within a family depends on the social location in which they take place (ibid., pp. 220-223). With King’s more recent adolescent theory perspective, Bernfeld's idea can also be transferred to today’s adolescence and interpreted as unequal opportunities in adolescence with regard to generative transmission. Following Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus, which has some similarities to that of social place, she emphasises the central role of class relations for generative transmission with regard to the transmission of power and privilege (King 2013, pp. 106-113):

This involves - especially in youth or adolescence - a practical, social and psychological confrontation with the resources and social positions inherited from the family of origin in a concrete, but above all also in a figurative sense, with unresolved conflicts, messages or even missions, as described by Bourdieu. (King 2022, p. 58)

Adolescence processes are therefore centrally interwoven with struggles for resources that manifest themselves in practices of class distinction. This also includes unequal opportunities to individuation that depend on the social place and the resources available there.

The social place is also characterised by another dimension: sex/gender relations also play a central role in adolescence (Bourdieu took this into account, Bernfeld did not). Sex/gender relations are relevant to adolescence because girls were excluded from it for a long time, what is still recognisable in female adolescence today (see, among others, the contributions in King & Flaake 1993, in the context of youth welfare Finkel 2004). Furthermore, they are also constitutive for adolescence because they form a central terrain on which individuation processes are often negotiated (King 2013, p. 81). This assumption can be taken further in line with feminist-Lacanian perspectives (see among others Rendtorff 1995, for the international debate on sexual difference Soiland, Frühauf, & Hartmann 2022b). Unlike Klaus Hornstein, who describes individuation as a “task of individual personality development” (Hornstein 1989, p. 10), such perspectives understand individuation less as a process which leads towards a clear and stable (gender) identity. The focus is much more on detachment and separation, which, in addition to the detachment from parents and the parental generation already formulated with King, also refers to a split that goes through the self: In Lacanian perspective this split or barred subject means the detachment from self-images in the sense of a whole and complete state of being, a whole gender identity. This means that the experience of separateness does not only involve separation from others, but also the loss of self-identical illusions and fantasies of omnipotence, which flourish in adolescence but ultimately cannot be maintained. Even if King’s position does not follow Lacan, this idea can easily be linked to her description of growing up as a process of letting go of fantasies of omnipotence (King 2013, p. 69). This process is, however, mediated not only by generational relations but also by the sexual difference in particular. For as a “difference relative to reproduction” (Kristeva, cited in Rendtorff 1995, p. 14), which refers to birth and finiteness as well as to the dependence on others, the sexual difference thus stands alongside generational difference for those existential questions that often become virulent in adolescence. As a sign of split, non-identity and relatedness, the sexual difference and the struggles with it often play a central role in individuation processes. On the one hand, relatedness, dependency, finiteness etc. must be subjectivised in adolescence; on the other hand, they have historically been repressed in patriarchy by male fantasies of omnipotence (ibid.).

Sex/gender relations thus structure the phase of adolescence alongside class relations in a central way and have an impact on it. If we now bring together the theoretical considerations of adolescence with the question of the social-ecological crisis, two initial considerations can be made. Firstly, the current experience of crisis has changed adolescents’ relationship to the future, because it affects the possibility of the ‘new’ as a (future) horizon of individuation processes. According to Frank Adloff, the horizon of the future of modern societies has shrunk dramatically (Adloff 2020, p. 149). What used to be “basically open and orientated towards progress” (ibid.) has now reached a “rift in time” (ibid.), a kind of impasse into which modern societies have fallen due to their destructive relationship with nature. If the future is no longer experienced as something open, the question arises as to what effects this has on adolescence and to what extent class and sex/gender dimensions become relevant here. For example, the fact that the social-ecological crisis tends to have a greater significance for girls might not only have to do with their historical responsibility for reproduction, the care of life and their supposed closeness to nature, i.e. point to generative transmission. Rather, it could also be about individuation: Female individuation processes that are orientated towards a generally open future have only recently become possible in the course of the struggles of feminist emancipation movements. It is therefore also imaginable that girls are involved in the defence of these new possibilities. Regarding the significance of class, on the other hand, it could be assumed that plans for the future have always been somewhat precarious for young people who are affected by economic inequality and deprivation. Their future perspectives are already challenged by poverty and precarisation, which is why Hornstein remarked in the face of high youth unemployment:

As such, it [the future and time structure of adolescence] is […] gaining significance in a different and new direction, namely for the legitimisation of exclusion and delayed or lacking access to social goods and resources - especially when these, like work, are scarce. This means that the tension that characterised the time structure of youth loses its meaning. (Hornstein 1998, p. 31)

The question therefore arises as to whether the social-ecological crisis is relevant for these adolescents and their relationship to the future at all, whether it is overshadowed by other crises and issues or whether it may become significant for them in other ways.

Secondly, the increasing crisis awareness is accompanied by an increased presence of relatedness, dependency and finiteness. This is fundamentally at odds with late capitalist fantasies of limitless availability (King 2023, p. 260) or of limitless enjoyment (Soiland, Frühauf, & Hartmann 2022a). While traditional models of the autonomous individual have been called into question for some time now, these fantasies continue to reject and split off issues such as the dependence on others. On the one hand, the current crisis awareness can therefore be linked to the hope for “new cultural forms of dealing with transience and limitation” (King 2023, p. 260); on the other hand, the presence of dependency can also be accompanied by increased feelings of threat. They need to be considered in their social embeddedness, for example the presence of dependency is likely to challenge male self-concepts in particular, as these are traditionally based more on ideals of autonomy and independence. Male strategies of ‘resovereignisation’ (Forster 2006) might be expected here which can be combined with renationalisation fantasies as we see in right-wing populist discourses. They in turn could be particularly attractive to adolescents who see themselves economically threatened by globalised labour markets and migration. Both considerations, a changed relationship to the future and a stronger presence of relatedness and dependency, should, however, be understood as initial considerations that need to be placed on an empirical basis.

4           Adolescence in times of crisis. Considerations for the field of Open Child and Youth Work

How significant is the social-ecological crisis for the fields of social pedagogy/social work? Social pedagogy/social work has a mediating function between society and the individual, as Klaus Mollenhauer put it: It works on the “discrepancy between the orders of society and the individual” (Mollenhauer 1959, p. 54.). It thus plays a central role in shaping youth as a particular phase in the life course, because this phase of transition has a central hinge function both with regard to the integration of individuals into society and into social positions (integration), as well as with regard to subjectivity, which is referred to in this article as individuation.

Open Child and Youth Work in Germany is a part of Social Pedagogy/Social Work and a (leisure) program for children and young people that is mainly offered by professionals. It includes:

large and small facilities, youth clubs in rural areas, girls’ clubs, child and youth cultural work in youth art schools, socio-cultural centres, youth cultural centres, adventure playgrounds, ‘play mobiles’ [Spielmobile] and self-governed youth centres (Sturzenhecker & Deinet 2018, p. 702).

The ‚open’ is highly significant for its professional self-conception, it means that such offers are low-threshold and open to all children and young people regardless of their social or migration background, gender, etc., there is a slight overrepresentation of certain groups, especially boys and educational disadvantaged young people (see Seckinger et al. 2016, p. 136-153; Mairhofer et al. 2022, p. 53-62). Openness also means that it is open to the concerns and interests of children and young people in terms of content and methods (ibid., p. 11f), so voluntary participation, discursive forms, low power relations on a formal level [formale Machtarmut] and relationship orientation [Beziehungsgebundenheit] are further central working principles (Sturzenhecker & Deinet 2018, p. 695f).

Nevertheless, it is not a space free from power relations and inequality (Burghard 2020; Schulze 2023). Also, the tensions between the generations described above could be at work here, but due to the orientation on the interests and needs of young people, they probably take place less on a manifest level, but rather latently. In their ethnographic study, Cloos and Köngeter show that in Open Child and Youth Work,

deliberate pedagogical intervention often takes place in silence so that the actual asymmetry of the relationship between educators and addressees in the social pedagogical arena remains as latent as possible, without denying it, however (Cloos & Köngeter 2021, p. 183, see also Cloos et al. 2009).

Furthermore, the Open Child and Youth Work is part of the welfare state and even if it aims stands at a critical distance from state control tasks, it

always finds itself in the field of tension between youth-cultural conflict-orientation and regulatory-political demands for pacification. It is therefore not outside the youth policy conflict either, but is itself involved in it. (Böhnisch 2020, p. 160)

Regarding the social-ecological crisis it can be assumed that the perspectives and experiences of very differently positioned young people can be found here. So how do the professionals deal with these differences and what forms of subjectivation and subjectivity they promote at a time when the (everyday) life forms of the “fossilistic-capitalist mode of production and living” (Brand 2009, p. 2) are increasingly proving to be dysfunctional? Presumably, social pedagogy might find itself here in the middle of an arena of the “struggles for the legitimacy of ways of life” [Streits um die Geltung von Lebensführungen] (ibid., p. 84) as Neckel characterises the social conflicts surrounding the discourse of sustainability. The Open Child and Youth Work might tend to show solidary relationships with young climate activists. This can be observed in the academic debate, in which a closer connection to youth movements such as Fridays for Future is claimed (Böhnisch 2020, pp. 39f &. 159; Brebeck & Liedholz 2022). One can imagine professionals working together with young people to question ‘old’ patterns of life and explore new forms instead of trying to integrate them into existing patterns of work, life and consumption. Conversely, however, such efforts can also be accompanied by pejorative perspectives on young people who are suspicious of the social-ecological transformation. Economically disadvantaged young people who cannot keep up with sustainable consumption patterns and reject the middle-class habitus that goes with it could be devalued and stigmatized. Such individualising tendencies are sometimes promoted in the scientific debate - albeit unintentionally - when the main objective of the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) with children and young people is formulated as “being confronted with the consequences of one’s own actions for others, e.g. for people or for animals and plants” (Schubert 2021, p. 819). Besides, professionals themselves may also be reject the crisis experience or dismiss the topic as unimportant. Habibi-Kohlen observes this kind of denial and repression on the part of the older generation in general (Habibi-Kohlen 2023; 34-36), which is why the current crisis is hitting the younger generation twice over:

Children and young people are growing up suffering not only from the climate crisis directly, but first and foremost from the refusal of adults, especially the boomer generation, to bear witness to their suffering (...). It can be assumed that the stronger the unconscious feelings of guilt of the parents’ generation are, the greater the need to defend against them. (ibid., pp. 180f)

In this interpretation, feelings of guilt and powerlessness on the part of the older generation lead to difficult intergenerational relationships, which would also be conceivable for intergenerational relationships in Open Child and Youth Work (see on guilt dynamics of professionals in social work (Frühauf 2021)). In general, alliances and frictions regarding the climate crisis can probably be observed not only between the generations and thus between professionals and adolescents, but also along various social divisions.

All these preliminary considerations are to be understood in the sense of initial sensitising concepts that can orientate social pedagogical research alongside the theoretical assumptions about adolescence. Such research should be qualitative, as this would allow to go beyond the quantitative results referenced above, and gain insights into the concrete modelling of adolescence in times of crisis and the latent dynamics between professionals and adolescents (and their families), which are mobilized in it. In addition to the question of the significance of the social-ecological crisis, such a research perspective also provides deeper insights into the current shaping of adolescent processes and generational relationships in Open Child and Youth Work.

5           Conclusion

Against the background of the experience of the social-ecological crisis, the question arises as to what relevance this has for adolescents in social pedagogical/social work fields. The article argues that young people are particularly affected by the social-ecological crisis and that this is linked to their position in the society. Therefore, a research perspective on adolescence is necessary that focuses on the affective dimension of adolescence without reducing it to individual coping patterns but analyse within social structures of inequality. Scientific debates on the significance of the social-ecological crisis for social pedagogy/social work have so far mainly focussed on ethical and justice aspects (see, for example, the contributions in Pfaff, Schramkowski, & Lutz 2022 and in Retkowski & Sierra Barra 2022, also Stamm 2021; Schmelz 2022; Spatscheck 2022). Even if this is obviously important, in addition to the search for new normative anchors, qualitative research is needed on how adolescents experience the crisis and how professionals deal with the different experiences and perspectives of young people. Social pedagogical research could contribute to crisis research by making the social aspect of the ecological crisis visible and thus giving the current experience of crisis a social location.


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Author´s Address:
Dr. Marie Frühauf
University of Wuppertal
School of Human and Social Sciences
Institute of Education
Gaußstraße 20
42119 Wuppertal

[1] However, there is no clear picture for people with migration experience. People with their own migration history are underrepresented among the demonstrators, while people whose parents migrated are strongly represented (Sommer et al. 2020, p. 31).

[2] The article focusses on gender and class dimensions, but it can be assumed that the migration background also plays an important role in adolescence and in the experience of crisis, especially if the effects of climate change are already present in the countries of origin or are even the cause of flight. This important gap must and will be considered in future research.