“You Mustn't Regret the Past, You Mustn't Fear the Future; You Must Rejoice the Present”: Survival at the Margins

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: Booth 55
Oral Presentation
Vangile BINGMA , University of Pretoria, South Africa
Around the world youth are negotiating everyday life under difficult socio-economic and socio-political conditions. The consequence of the aforementioned has been a growing and protracted youth unemployment problem. Drawing on a qualitative case study that investigated male early high school leaving in a township in South Africa, this paper answers the following question: how do unemployed male youth negotiate everyday life?

The narratives of the male youth point to desperate conditions within which they negotiate daily survival. Furthermore, their observations of their social world provide anecdotes of what peers in similar circumstances are engaged in. The desperate conditions are captured by coping and survival strategies such as informal trading, cleaning garbage bins, substance abuse, theft and collecting scrap metal. The paper reaches the following conclusions: 1) the male youth are negotiating multiple-marginal-positions within their social world, 2) the state of “waithood” characterising their lives entrenches destructive social practices, and 3) the stalemate in policy direction around youth unemployment is not only perpetuating dependency, it is producing complex social problems that a finality in youth unemployment policy will not contain.