L01


The dynamics of youth inequalities: aspirations, agency and multidimensional poverty (Paper) 
Convenor:
Solava Ibrahim (University of Cambridge/Anglia Ruskin University )
Stream:
L: Youth and inequality
Location:
F5
Start time:
28 June, 2018 at 14:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
3

Short Abstract:

The Study Group on Multidimensional Poverty and Poverty Dynamics proposes a panel on youth inequalities in Global South and North. The panel aims to address global inequalities and multidimensional poverty - with a focus on youth aspirations and agency and runs in 2 sessions based on submissions.

Long Abstract

The Study Group on Multidimensional Poverty and Poverty Dynamics proposes a panel on youth inequalities in the Global South and North. Focusing on global inequalities and multidimensional poverty, the panel highlights the dual role of youth in these processes. They are not only an important and dynamic social group affected by these processes, but can also act as major catalysts to address them; for example as witnessed in the Arab Spring uprisings.

The aim of this panel is threefold: (1) to examine the impact of global inequalities on youth; (2) to explore the multidimensional nature of youth-related poverty; and (3) to examine the role of youth agency and aspirations in addressing inequalities.

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative research methods and relevant theoretical approaches, the papers will examine how different types of inequality such as those based on gender, ethnicity, disabliity and sexuality manifest themselves in the experiences of youth.

Given its interdisciplinary nature, the panel welcomes papers that address the topic from sociological and anthropological perspectives (e.g. on youth agency and unequal power relations), political lens (on youth citizenship, marginalisation and resistance to inequalities) as well as economic focus (on youth employment and precarity of their work).

It will run across two sessions, each with 3-4 papers. The focus of the sessions will be decided following the remit of high-quality submissions. Papers must be clearly about young people experiencing multi-dimensional poverty and would ideally critically engage with youth-related inequalities thus moving beyond the measurement of multidimensional poverty for youth.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Alice Chadwick (University of Bath)

Paper short abstract:

Looking at how NGOs represent youth agency during the Ebola response in Sierra Leone, I argue that a narrative of transformation from youthful marginalisation to 'active' citizenship obscures structural causes of poverty and shapes what forms of agency are deemed acceptable.

Paper long abstract:

Young people have long been considered a marginalised group within development. This is especially true of Sierra Leone where youth grievances are considered a key cause of civil conflict in the 1990s. Concerns surrounding youth marginalisation remain despite an extensive youth focused development programme in the country. Within this agenda young people have emerged as a group with agency, but arguably what this agency looks like has often been determined by the agendas of development NGOs. In this paper I consider youth marginalisation and agency in relation to the Ebola response 2014-16, looking at how NGOs represent youth agency during the 'crisis'. Through empirical analysis of interviews with NGO staff and policy documents, I argue that NGOs make sense of young people's involvement in the Ebola response through a narrative of transformation from marginalisation to 'active' citizenship. This is in-keeping with normative narratives in development which see responsible citizenship as a route out of poverty. However, this focus acts to obscure the structural causes of youth inequality and further entrenches ideas of acceptable and non-acceptable forms of youth agency, within which challenging structural causes of poverty becomes obscured. During the Ebola response this played out in the creation of acceptable forms of behaviour in the form of youthful volunteering and non-acceptable forms in terms of protest. Understanding how NGOs represent youth agency in times of 'crisis' enables us to argue for more nuanced understandings of youth agency, which take account of structural causes of poverty and inequality.

Author:

Solava Ibrahim (University of Cambridge/Anglia Ruskin University )

Paper short abstract:

How did the uprisings affect Egyptian youth? This paper tracks the aspirations and agency of urban youth in Cairo over ten years (2006-2016) and identifies four citizenship pathways they followed to address persisting inequalities: radicalisation, depoliticization, disengagement and pragmatism.

Paper long abstract:

How did Arab Spring affect agency and aspirations of Egyptian youth? Youth were not only the catalysts for these uprisings, but they were also its main victims. Stalled political transition and deepening economic crisis in Egypt has hit youth the most. In 2015, unemployment rates among educated youth reached 44%. Tracking the aspirations and wellbeing perceptions of urban youth over ten years (2006-2016), this paper argues that the Egyptian regime failed to address the structural causes for youth-related inequalities thus leading to the persistence of the same unfulfilled youth aspirations over time; especially in employment and education.

Through four case studies of urban young men in Manshiet Nasser, Cairo's largest informal settlement, the paper identifies four citizenship pathways youth have followed to address these growing frustrations and persistent inequalities: radicalisation, depoliticization, disengagement and pragmatism. Radicalisation mainly results from the exposure to police brutality and the failure to find adequate job opportunities, especially among educated youth. Depoliticization is common among the educated secular youth activists who participated in the uprisings but had to withdraw from public space because of growing state repression. Disengagement is a strategy mainly adopted by uneducated youth who suffered from growing inequalities in the city due the deteriorating economic conditions and rising costs of living. Finally, youth may also become 'pragmatic' by engaging in corrupt activities that will allow them to generate sufficient income to shorten their waithood period and fulfil their aspirations. The paper explores the implications of these pathways on youth agency and citizenship rights.

Author:

Aly Khalil (IDS, University of Sussex)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores youth perceptions of inequality leading to the Arab Spring. It speaks to the debate on the link between inequality and inequality of power and aims to highlight perceptions of inequality among different demographics of politically active youth in Egypt during the uprisings.

Paper long abstract:

The research presented in this paper explores youth perceptions of inequality; how youth aspirations are shaped, and how these aspirations contributed to the Arab Spring movement. Previous studies analyzing inequality indicators during the time leading up to the 2011 youth movements in Egypt and Latin America, suggest that protests may have been motivated by youth perceptions of inequalities rather than actual inequalities. This study aims to capture youth perception of their agency as a factor for the mobilization of protests in Egypt. It also aims to map the most highlighted inequalities among different demographics of politically active youth during the Arab Spring. Using oral history method, participants' personal accounts of their motivation and perception of inequality-related issues are recorded. The different networks of mobilization vis-à-vis their member demographics and drivers are mapped, with the sample population creating an opportunity to better analyze participation, although not necessarily drawing proper representation. The rising expectations of Egyptian youth attributed to the economic and political liberalization that happened in the decade following 9/11, and increasing exposure to personal freedoms in developed countries from social media, fueled the demands for equality during the Arab Spring. Collectively, data presented in this paper indicates that youth participation in the 2011 and 2013 uprisings in Egypt was driven by a sense of inequality of power.

Authors:

Wayne Shand (University of Manchester)
Lorraine van Blerk (University of Dundee)

Paper short abstract:

Young refugees face multiple challenges to attaining social adulthood due to lost social and material capital and legal limits to employment. This paper explores the experiences of young refugees in Jordan and Uganda to examine the impact of limited work opportunities on transitions to adulthood.

Paper long abstract:

UNHCR report that there are some 65 million displaced people across the globe, with 16 million people classified as refugees, living in host countries (UNHCR, 2017). Alongside rising numbers of refugees, the patterns of displacement are changing with a majority of refugees living outside of formal camps in urban areas and the average period of exile for refugees, in situations of protracted displacement, is more than 20 years (UNHCR, 2016). With over half of all refugees under the age of 18, this changing context creates particular challenges for how young people attain social adulthood.

Overlapping impacts arising from the traumatic experiences of displacement, loss of material and social capital, experience of poverty and exclusion and the limiting effects of the institutional categorisation of refugee, severely constrain traditional pathways into adult life for young refugees. This paper draws from youth-led qualitative research undertaken in the diverse contexts of Uganda and Jordan to explore youth transitions into adulthood. Focusing specifically on work, as a primary route into adult life, the paper will examine how limited opportunities due to weak labour market conditions, legal restrictions on participation and the effects of discrimination combine to shape the construction of social adulthood. The findings of the research have implications for both how youth transitions are conceptualised for young refugees and for the design of humanitarian and development policy and programming.

Authors:

Chiara Cazzuffi (RIMISP - Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural)
Juan Fernández Labbé (RIMISP - Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural)
Javiera Torres (RIMISP - Centro Latinoamericano para el Desarrollo Rural)
Vivian Diaz

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates the aspirations of economic inclusion of the Latin American youth, and how they relate with their assets and vulnerabilities, and with the characteristics of the place where they live.

Paper long abstract:

This paper investigates the aspirations of economic inclusion of the Latin American youth, and how they relate with their assets and vulnerabilities, and with the characteristics of the place where they live. Using survey data on eight Latin American countries, we find that place characteristics have an important influence on the aspirations of young people, stronger than that of individual assets (education, agency) and vulnerabilities. In particular, youths living in rural areas attribute significantly more importance to work, and are significantly more concerned about losing it, compared to their urban counterparts; they also attribute less importance to wealth and success compared to urban youths. In contrast, the aspirations of the adult population appear to be driven by their current level of assets, while place characteristics are not significant.

Author:

Admire Nyamwanza (Human Sciences Research Council)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores features driving youth inequality in the Global South, focusing on South Africa. Using a political economy lens, it analyses the nature and consequences of youth inequality in South Africa, suggesting recommendations for solutions and drawing lessons for the Global South at large

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the main features driving youth inequality in the Global South and solutions to this problem using the specific case of South Africa. South Africa has one of the highest inequality rates in the world, a problem that cuts across economic, generational, racial, gender and spatial aspects. This paper zeroes in on the generational aspect in analysis. Interestingly, generational inequality intersects with all the other named aspects such that the concentration of poverty in the country predominantly lies with black youths and young black women in rural areas. With youth constituting the biggest age-category of South Africa's population, the issue of youth inequality and associated problems has remained at the centre stage in policy-making, civil society and academic circles for most of the post-apartheid era. Using a political economy lens, this paper discusses the causes, nature and trends of various youth inequality dimensions in South Africa over the years. A key focus of the paper is on how youth inequality has linked with and perpetuated specific youth concerns like persistent high youth unemployment, limited youth land rights and constricting opportunities for entrepreneurial activities among young people. It also analyses policy and legislative initiatives instituted to deal with the problem over the years. The paper ultimately suggests recommendations for progressive and inclusive interventions focused on stimulating youth economic participation, expanding youth land rights and opening up entrepreneurial opportunities for young people in the country going forward, drawing lessons for solutions to youth inequality in the Global South at large.

Author:

Sonja Marzi (London School of Economics and Political Science)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the influence of young Colombians' place of living on their aspirations and social mobility opportunities. On example of young Colombians, aged 15-22, in Cartagena, this paper illustrate how their places create inequalities and limit their social mobility opportunities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the interrelation between young Colombians' negotiation of possible future selves and the influence of their everyday places and spaces, in particular their neighbourhoods. It seeks to increase an understanding of how young Colombians, aged 15-22, in Cartagena, relate to their neighbourhood and how its opportunity structures enable or constraint the young Cartagenians' social and physical (im)mobility. Cartagena is described as a city of contrasts, especially between 'rich' and 'poor' neighbourhoods as well as unequal opportunities structures due to its highly segregated society. I will present cases of young Cartagenians, living in marginalised neighbourhoods of the city, and illustrate on their examples how their places of living create inequalities. In particular I explore how the neighbourhood, its location within the city and belonging to it and its community can enable or constrain young people to be able to take advantage of social mobility opportunities such as having access to educational and occupational opportunities. Therefore this paper will present cases of young Cartagenians, living in marginalised neighbourhoods of the city, and illustrate on their examples how they navigate towards their desired future selves. Theoretically I draw on the neighbourhood effects literature and on Vigh's concept of social navigation. This approach generates insights by exploring the role of a segregated social environment with its neighbourhood influences shaping young people's present and future identities as well as through external opportunities structures to achieve upward social mobility.

Author:

Daniel Wroe

Paper short abstract:

Based on an ethnographic case study from a rural Malawian village, this paper explores how intergenerational relationships provide opportunities for young men to escape 'waithood', specifically where an older generation has been through a comparable life stage.

Paper long abstract:

Young men in Africa have been described living in 'waithood', denied opportunities to attain adulthood, socially defined. Not passive, these young men transform the conditions of their 'waithood' and seek to escape it. Based on an ethnographic case study of the elopement of a young man and women in a rural Malawian village, the paper emphasises the opportunities intergenerational relationships provide for young men in rural areas to challenge social and economic inequalities and assert a position at the centre of local political life. In a context where young people frequently migrate to urban areas, middle-aged and elderly people's fears about their care in the future are an impetus for their support of younger men. Elders' recollections of their own times of 'waithood' also make moral critiques of young men's situations difficult to sustain. This second point raises an important analytical question about what it might mean to be entering an era where there are now two generations that have experienced comparable times of 'waithood'.

Author:

Eyob Balcha Gebremariam (LSE)

Paper short abstract:

This paper argues that understanding the politics of claiming and exercising citizenship rights among young people requires a process-oriented, dynamic and relational approach to citizenship.

Paper long abstract:

This paper argues that understanding the politics of claiming and exercising citizenship rights among young people requires a process-oriented, dynamic and relational approach to citizenship. Key components of this approach are citizenship rights, spaces of citizenship and strategies of citizenship. The paper adopts this approach to examine how young people in Addis Ababa pursue and contest their citizenship rights. By focusing on three case studies, the paper puts forward the following three inter-related arguments/findings. First, the processes of citizenship are significantly shaped by the politics of development that affect how resources are owned, produced, controlled and distributed. Second, the dynamic nature of claiming and exercising citizenship can be explained by the movement of young citizens between spaces and within spaces. These movements inform the vital role of a relational approach to citizenship. Third, in addition to the two broad categories of 'invited' and 'created' spaces found in the literature, the paper introduces the notion of 'captured created spaces'. 'Captured created spaces' are identified as one of the key manifestations of a process-oriented, dynamic and relational approach towards understanding the politics of claiming and exercising citizenship rights.