A1 Journal article (refereed)
Being positive, being hopeful, being happy : young adults reflecting on their future in times of austerity (2022)

Nikunen, M., & Korvajärvi, P. (2022). Being positive, being hopeful, being happy : young adults reflecting on their future in times of austerity. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 25(3), 824-842. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549420935901

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Nikunen, Minna; Korvajärvi, Päivi

Journal or series: European Journal of Cultural Studies

ISSN: 1367-5494

eISSN: 1460-3551

Publication year: 2022

Publication date: 06/07/2020

Volume: 25

Issue number: 3

Pages range: 824-842

Publisher: Sage Publications

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549420935901

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Partially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71113


The aim of this article is to analyse the ways in which young adults reflect on their futures. We are particularly interested in how they expect to organize their lives in conditions that seem to offer pessimistic rather than hopeful prospects. How does this happen under social conditions where the major public and individual concerns are with how young adults organize their material lives and how they earn sufficient livelihoods to become good citizens? What are the grounds for their future visions? In our analysis we use 40 interviews with young Finnish adults aged between 18 and 30. The respondents are students, as well as employed and unemployed young adults. Our findings show that the young adults’ anticipated future experiences – contrary to common expectations – are positive. These conclusions are often drawn from social comparisons, especially with imagined peers. Those who saw their own and their peers’ future as depending more on luck focused on societal insecurity. One group that had positive expectations emphasized happiness. Instead of seeking material success, many of the young adults reported that their goal was to be happy in their future lives. Happiness appears to involve both living according to, and coping with, the demands of the economy and employment.

Keywords: young adults; youth; future expectations; optimism; happiness (emotions); working life; economic condition

Free keywords: affect; futurity; happiness; optimism; working-life; youth

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2022

Preliminary JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2022-20-09 at 15:56