Bringing the Street Back In: Considering Strategy, Contingency and Relative Good Fortune in Street Children’s Access to Paid Work in Accra

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Abstract

A sociology of street children has emerged defined by its rejection of the dominant narratives of child welfare organisations that identify the street as the root cause of children’s immiseration and improper socialisation. In its place, sociological analysis has undermined the value of conceptualising street children as a coherent group on the street and in a parallel move has looked to conceptually reposition street children away from assumptions of passivity and neglect, towards a foundational insistence that the starting place for analysis is the positioning of street children as active and strategic social agents. It is the adequacy of this latter concern that is the focus of this article. By reintroducing the location of children within the social relations of the informal street economy, this article draws upon extensive and long-term qualitative research examining the lives of street children in Accra, Ghana. The argument here is that sociological notions of strategic action and efficacious agency seem ill-suited to accounting for the dilemmas and difficulties that street children’s quests for paid work inevitably involve. Rather, it is relative good fortune within the radical uncertainty of the social relations of the informal street economy that seems much more appropriate to accounting for how these children are integrated into work
LanguageEnglish
Pages1058-1073
Number of pages16
JournalSociological Review
Volume66
Issue number5
Early online date13 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

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contingency
Social Relations
immiseration
welfare organization
economy
Socialisation
child welfare
Ghana
qualitative research
neglect
sociology
uncertainty
narrative
cause

Bibliographical note

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Cite this

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title = "Bringing the Street Back In: Considering Strategy, Contingency and Relative Good Fortune in Street Children’s Access to Paid Work in Accra",
abstract = "A sociology of street children has emerged defined by its rejection of the dominant narratives of child welfare organisations that identify the street as the root cause of children’s immiseration and improper socialisation. In its place, sociological analysis has undermined the value of conceptualising street children as a coherent group on the street and in a parallel move has looked to conceptually reposition street children away from assumptions of passivity and neglect, towards a foundational insistence that the starting place for analysis is the positioning of street children as active and strategic social agents. It is the adequacy of this latter concern that is the focus of this article. By reintroducing the location of children within the social relations of the informal street economy, this article draws upon extensive and long-term qualitative research examining the lives of street children in Accra, Ghana. The argument here is that sociological notions of strategic action and efficacious agency seem ill-suited to accounting for the dilemmas and difficulties that street children’s quests for paid work inevitably involve. Rather, it is relative good fortune within the radical uncertainty of the social relations of the informal street economy that seems much more appropriate to accounting for how these children are integrated into work",
author = "Phillip Mizen",
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