Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Global Governance and Human Security

First Advisor

Jane Parpart

Second Advisor

Courtenay Sprague

Third Advisor

Anna Agathangelou, Catia Confortini


With the global youth population being the largest it has ever been, international security elites such as the United Nations increasingly focus on the youth demographic as “new” security actors. However, such discourses are embedded with neoliberal principles and primarily emphasize youth in developing states in dire or precarious situations. Although focusing on youth in such situations is extremely important, such an emphasis creates a limited framework for understanding the inherent power relations in neoliberal youth security governance while also leaving out the experiences of youth living in more “developed” and “secure” environments. To broaden our understanding of neoliberal youth security governance, I used Foucauldian discourse analysis with governmentality to examine the relationship between various power relations embedded in security elite discourses from the United Nations and a more “developed” and “secure” state of South Korea. I then used interviews with governmentality to examine how Korean youth conceptualize their (in)security, identity, and agency. In doing so, I reveal how young Koreans experience (in)security such as discrimination, lack of voice, and omnipresent pressure to stay productive, reflecting a nexus of (in)security or what I call hard living and the inability to live a secure life under neoliberal governance. Such experiences of (in)security reflect the messy reality of the reproduction of various power relations such as neoliberal, state security, and cultural norms that shape how youth understand their (in)security, identity, and agencies. Specifically, Korean youth reveal how various power relations shape individual and divisive security rationales that hinder addressing youth (in)security on a larger scale.


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