What happened?

The hospitality industry, live event industry and cultural sector have mostly come to a standstill due to the coronavirus and the prospects are grim, especially for small halls or spaces with limited possibilities or indeed very large events. Young people are often hit hard by the corona measures taken in this industry. As employees, they’re more likely to lose their jobs because of flexible contracts and it’s difficult to find employment elsewhere. And the measures also seem to affect them disproportionately as the main consumers in these sectors. They belong to the lowest risk group, but as yet, there have not been any age-specific measures. Moreover, unlike other age groups, their social life is more likely to depend on live and cultural events.

What does this mean?

Political leaders have become aware of the difficult situation they’ve put young people in and Rutte therefore called on them to start a revolution from the bottom-up in the press conference of 20 May. He challenged the youth to confront administrators about the measures and come up with practical alternatives. But in the abovementioned sectors, this has been of little avail. It has been mostly entrepreneurs and spokespeople who, under the pretext of employment, bankruptcy and the common good, have come to these sectors’ aid. Youth workers and consumers have kept mum. This is mainly because what these sectors provide is a luxury, thus its temporary absence is merely a problem of luxury, especially for the spoiled and narcissistic millennial. The importance of partying at Lowlands and amusing oneself in bars, most young people wouldn’t dare to bring that up during a global health crisis. But the tide is slowly beginning to turn, and resistance among young people is growing.

What’s next?

There are three forms of constructive resistance we can expect to see in the coming period that could yield significant improvements in the situation of young people. First, they’re beginning to more actively claim a seat at the negotiation table and have achieved modest successes in this respect. United in coalition-Y – this is the group that has coined the term constructive revolution – young people are demanding, among other things, a generation test to determine the long-term damage caused by the corona measures. Second, there is the inventiveness of youth themselves, because thanks to the first easing of measures, there is now some leeway for new initiatives to arise, such as social-dis-dancing. Finally, and this seems most powerful, younger consumers appear to be coming out of their shell and beginning to stand up for their interests and needs, despite their “luxurious nature”, such as in this ode to festival culture. Partying at festivals and other large social events responds to a deep-seated need and is an important outlet for the current young generation, as they are increasingly making clear. Thanks to these forms of constructive resistance, the coming year might see more improvements for young people than we’re witnessing now.