1st Edition

Young People, Media, and Nostalgia An Ethnography of How Youth Imagine their Lives

By Rodrigo Muñoz-González Copyright 2025
    216 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores how Latin American young people engage with nostalgic representations of the 1970s and 1980s through contemporary media.

    Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Costa Rica, this book analyses how young people make sense of nostalgic representations of transnational pasts, thus creating a link between media reception practices and broader social, cultural, economic, and political structures. By examining media reception, social imaginaries, and young audiences in the Global South, this book brings to the fore new insights concerning the role media has in fostering senses of national memory by highlighting the key role of everyday media engagements in comprehending the relationship between past, present and future.

    This comprehensive empirical study will be of interest to scholars, researchers and students of media and communications studies, Latin American studies, sociology, digital culture, memory studies, social and cultural anthropology, youth studies, cultural studies, and readers interested in popular culture, television, and cinema.

    1. Back in Time

    2. From Memory to Nostalgia

    3. Making Sense of Nostalgia

    4. Imagining the Past: Idealisations and Ambivalences

    5. Per Aspera Ad Adstra

    6. Charming Pasts and Impossible Futures

    7. Nostalgia as Structure of Feeling

    8. Epilogue: A Meditation on Homecomings

    Appendix: Research Design

    Biography

    Rodrigo Muñoz-González is lecturer at the School of Communication of the University of Costa Rica. He holds a PhD in Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

    Young People, Media, and Nostalgia offers a fresh and richly detailed account of nostalgia cultures in streaming video. The sharp analytical convergence between cultural studies and memory studies in an era of retro aesthetics, and the grounded exploration of transnational media flows in Central America, make a vital contribution to global media studies”.                                     

    Adrian Athique, University of Queensland.

    “A fascinating study of nostalgia and media, Young People, Media, and Nostalgia examines the interplay of Costa Rican youth engagement in nostalgic TV and film from the US. The ethnographic research gives a framework for reception studies, as well as unveiling the transnational dynamics at play which are shaping young audience reactions to nostalgic representations”.

    Liz Harvey-Kattou, University of Westminster

    “This wonderful study gives timely new insight into the complex workings of nostalgia in the digital age. Muñoz-González combines an impressive theoretical range with empirical research into the complex motivations that make American media like Stranger Things and Bohemian Rhapsody so appealing to Costa Rican youth culture. Young People, Media, and Nostalgia thereby sheds urgent new light on the political, cultural, and social aspects of transnational media in the digital age.”

    Dan Hassler-Forest, Utrecht University.