The research project aims to:
- scrutinise conceptions of uncertainty and how uncertainty is perceived to affect pathways out of poverty from the perspectives of marginalised youth and adults
- examine violence, vulnerability, risk and resilience in the lives of young men and women living with uncertainty in impoverished areas, including understanding how identities and notions of autonomy and belonging are developed
- analyse youth agency in dealing with uncertainty and insecurity, their awareness of and access to their rights, and their migration behaviours and daily coping strategies
- inform and change policy discourses and practices concerning peacebuilding, community development and education using an improved understanding and re-conceptualisation of uncertainty, and how this affects the realisation of impoverished young people's living rights.
The objectives of the research are informed by Bauman's theories about communities and autonomy that have not previously been applied to conceptualise how marginalised youth experience uncertainty, poverty and their rights in fragile and conflict affected developing country contexts. The objectives will enable the project to produce new knowledge about the way vulnerable and marginalised street connected youth experience poverty as they grow up, and how this is affected by conflict, violence, instability, peer groups and migration.
The new insights will have direct impact on the practices of policy organisations that address poverty through initiatives for youth education and rights. Detailed research questions explore how vulnerability, agency, and rights affect young people's daily coping strategies, sense of security, belonging and autonomy and how their dreams and identities change as they grow up in settings from busy urban centres to remote rural settings in Nepal and Ethiopia.
The project will also advance our understandings of why – in times of conflict and in post-conflict and fragile environmental and social settings – youth reject traditional norms, form new social norms and seek support and leadership in alternative groupings and forms of peer support, such as gangs and extremist groups, but also peer groups that contribute to peace-building, reconstruction and positive social change.
Creative innovative methods, such as mapping, rivers of life, photo narrative, network and support diagrams, will help to reveal youth perspectives on the complexities of their lives. Through working with 1,000 youth and 320 adults and 80 key stakeholders, the international research team will analyse how thinking and strategies differ between genders and generations. In each country, 250 detailed case studies will be collected to provide stories from young men, women and youth of the third gender, aged 15-24 years, which will also help to understand how marginalised youth experiences of poverty and perceptions of and strategies in the face of uncertainty change depending on intersecting aspects ethnicity, caste, religion, disability, education and socio-economic status.