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Making a Difference? A Spatial Analysis of the Interaction Between Young People and FBOs In the Face of Marginalization

Mon, July 12, 8:30 to 9:30am, Virtual 2021, 2


The paper is based on the comparative South-African Nordic research project Youth at the margins (YOMA) that was studying the nature and extent to which faith-based organisations are contributing to social cohesion of marginalised youth in South Africa and in two Nordic countries (Finland and Norway). The focus of the project was on young people in the age between 16 to 24 (Swart 2013; Swart et alt. 2012).

The results of the comparative analysis of the case studies of the project indicate that FBOs have an important function in helping many individual young people at the margins, but only very few activities found that fight youth marginalisation on a more structural level. The four South African and the two Nordic case studies were different in many ways, but their findings showed, but it was common across the contexts and socio-economic conditions that systematic work against marginalisation of young people was rather the exception than part of the portfolio of the FBOs. At the same time, the FBOs were aware of the situation of the marginalised young people and had various services and activities to satisfy their immediate needs. This general observation or the role of FBOs applied to all case studies in both urban and rural contexts and triggered the curiosity of the researchers.

Concepts for describing marginalisation imply often spatial metaphors distinguishing between inside and outside or centre and periphery (Dawson 2014; Delpert et alt. 2016; Thompson et alt. 2014) In the process of analysing the case studies from a comparative perspective, the dimension of space turned out to be a useful prism for many of the findings. The young people and FBO representatives described spaces as exclusive in themselves or as having fragmenting function of dividing between those inside from those outside, often without any access to platforms for encounter in the everyday life. The paper analyses the contribution of FBOs for young people at the margins with spatial lenses (Eliade 2969; Haynes & Hennig 2013; Warf & Aris 2009). It asks how spaces limit young people or provide them with resources. It also asks what role FBOs have in the various spatial contexts of the six case studies. Do they empower young people to transcend limiting spaces or are they themselves part of the limitations and reinforce thus the exclusion? By using the spatial lens, the paper tries to get a deeper understanding of the role of third sector organisation in general and FBOs in particular in contexts of marginalisation.

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