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Shooting horizons: a study of youth empowerment and social change in Tanzania and South Africa

Kessi, Shose (2010) Shooting horizons: a study of youth empowerment and social change in Tanzania and South Africa. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is a social psychological approach to youth empowerment and social change in urban African contexts. Over a period of 22 months, 39 young people from Dar es Salaam and Soweto participated in a community‐based initiative called Shooting Horizons. The aim of the project was to engage young people in a process of critical consciousness and social action to represent themselves and their communities through their own words and images using Photovoice methodology. Six Photovoice workshops, involving a total of 23 young women and 16 young men, took place in multiple sites, two youth centres in Dar es Salaam and one in Soweto. The data was collected through multiple methods, including a series of 37 photo‐stories, 6 focus groups on development and social change, a record of daily discussion groups, and 1 focus group and 10 individual interviews post‐project. Emerging from the narrative positions of the participants, the project affirms the different directions for living envisaged by young people and promotes alternatives to the stigmatization of young people and their communities by the grand discourses and practices of development. Through a social psychological lens, I explore the impact that stigmatizing representations of development have on individual and social identities in order to make sense of the contradictions and ambiguities that it presents for enacting social change. I argue that a community empowerment framework, supported by an agenda of resistance to the exclusionary discourses and practices of development, can overcome some of the complex mechanisms of power that lead to oppressive social stratifications. The analysis observes the politics of knowledge and recognition in constructing social identities and building social capital to open up spaces for alternatives within the limitations of these particular contexts. The findings of this study consistently refer to how ‘difference’ is imbued in the narratives of young people and the need to address the gendered and racialized beliefs that contribute to participants’ internalized and victimising perspectives and that constrain processes of social change. Recommendations include practical, concrete, and innovative methods for urban African youth to engage in initiatives that suit their own development interests within a social psychological approach to empowerment that redefines community as a space of inbetweens, a citizenry of people sharing common interests and different agendas.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2010 Shose Kessi
Uncontrolled Keywords: social psychology; empowerment; social change; youth; development; representation, stigma, resistance, agency, social identities, social capital, critical consciousness, social recognition
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Psychological and Behavioural Science
Supervisor: Howarth, Caroline and Provencher, Claudine

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