Negotiating Transition into Adulthood in Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 15:05
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Jessica SCHWITTEK, University of Wuppertal, Germany
More often than not, youth in Central Asia is seen as a 'problem group', lost in the hardly comprehensible landscape of different orientations and ideologies following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This paper aims at taking a less deficit-oriented perspective by tackling the question how young people in Kyrgyzstan manage the enormous expectations which are held towards them within different interaction contexts and by a multitude of actors. Under conditions of economic shortages, growing social inequality, an inefficient educational system and corrupt (or alltogether missing) public structures, young people are expected and whish to accomplish status passages commonly summed up as ‚transition into adulthood’: obtaining an education and entering the job market, finding a spouse and starting a family. At the same time they rely on support from their family network which can be seen as the existential unit of Kyrgyz society at present. High (moral and financial) investments into family- and private networks are expected from the young in order to maintain the network’s loyalty. By using formal concepts from the theoretical body of symbolic interactionism, this paper looks at the conditions and shapes of status passages and the accompanying negotiations of young people in Kyrgyzstan with their significant others. Based on a grounded theory approach, new theoretical concepts will be introduced to grasp the strategies of young people living and making ends meet in this ‚transition society’.