Theorizing Italian American Youth Culture
This chapter delineates a theoretical approach that maps the empirical study of Italian American youth culture in the following chapters. It draws on the constructionist model of ethnicity and the segmented assimilation model, which are dominant in American sociology although not applied to Italian Americans, and the cultural studies approach to youth culture. This theoretical framework locates Italian American youth culture in specific social and historical contexts, allowing for agency and change. A Guido youth subculture emerged in the 1980s as a collective turn to popular American culture in the name of ethnicity. Italian American youth culture is a new ethnic institution—“sets of relationships” established over time to meet the social and cultural needs of second-generation youth (Cornell and Hartmann 86).