Faith Based Organisations and Marginalised Youth in Pretoria, South Africa

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Marlize RABE, Department of Sociology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Ignatius SWART, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa
Stephan DE BEER, Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria, South Africa
The main aim of this paper is to illuminate the role of faith based organisations (FBOs) in an urban environment, namely Pretoria central areas, in the lives of marginalised youth. In current South African policy documents focusing on the youth, scant attention is given to potential and actual contributions of FBOs even though the vast majority of South Africans indicated affiliation to a particular religion in a census and past surveys. The state’s policy discourse on social cohesion does not include formal relationships with organised religion, and in practice instances of a wide variety of relationships between the state and FBOs can be observed – ranging from co-operation to manipulation to mistrust. Employing purposive sampling, this research is based on 20 in-depth interviews and two focus groups with participants between 16 and 25 years old as well as formal and informal discussions with FBO staff and other involved community members. The presence/absence and contributions/hindrances of FBOs were all considered. Complicated narratives were found with certain participants lacking any support network and others relying only on capricious social relationships. FBOs made both practical and spiritual contributions to individual youth on short, medium and long term basis. However, despite commendable efforts from specific FBOs aiming to support individual agency of the youth and restoring their dignity, limited resources and at times tenuous relationships with local state departments undermine the potential positive effects of FBOs in an urban environment.