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Browsing by Subject "Zambia"

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  • Harju, Elina (2013)
    Street children´s life situations have received a lot of attention both in the media and in research in the recent years. In the literature street children are often defined as being under the age of 18. In this thesis, the focus group is the street youth, meaning the adolescents and young adults who either live full-time in the streets or are otherwise strongly connected with the street life. The research interest was to study how poverty is present in the lives of the street youth, and how their experiences of poverty in the streets and their own agency change when they grow older. A further interest was to find out how street life enables transition into adult roles in the society. The theoretical background of the thesis consists of introducing the discussion of structure and agency in social sciences as a way to understand the social life, then introducing the relevant concepts of poverty and social exclusion. Poverty in this thesis is understood in its widest sense, as Amartya Sen has defined it: deprivations of basic capacities that a person has to live the kind of life he or she has a reason to value. Also, the contemporary research on street children is introduced, where the agency perspective has gained space. The thesis also takes a look at some situational factors of the case study country Zambia, which affect the lives of the country’s vulnerable children and youth. This thesis is an ethnographic research consisting of two field work periods in Zambia’s capital city Lusaka. These field work periods took place in July-August 2011 and 2012 in an organization working with street children and youth. The informants were a heterogeneous group of street youth, aged between 14 and 28 and connected to the street life from different positions. The data consists of field notes and 33 recorded interviews with the informants. The results show that most of the street youth expressed reluctance towards their current life in the streets with little prospects for change. Income-wise their poverty seemed to vary, but the money was spent to meet one’s instant needs. Poverty was further expressed in terms of experienced public disrespect and vulnerability to violence and abuse by other street youth as well as police authorities. It also meant remoteness and mistrust in one’s social relationships. Poverty in the streets caused dependency of substances leading to decreased ability to take care of oneself as well as violent behavior. Growing older in the streets seemed to bring increased feelings of wasted years and frustration in one’s life situation, which was in contrast to adult roles in the society. Prolonged street life brought a risk of adopting illegal means and violent and harmful conduct. However, this was not necessarily so, and some of the youth had taken distance to the street life abandoned many of their earlier street behaviors. As chances for employment were small, they were, however, still stuck in the streets to earn living.
  • Saukkonen, Eero (2018)
    This Master’s thesis concerns the self-making practices of persons with physical disabilities in Zambia. The thesis is grounded in data gathered across three months of fieldwork conducted mostly in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. The bulk of these data consists of semi-structured interviews with individuals who were long-time users of mobility aids, namely orthopaedic prostheses and braces, crutches and wheelchairs. The study aims to contribute to broadening the available literature on the subjective experiences of disability, literature that has so far been sparse and disproportionately focused on Europe and North America. In this study, the task of self-making is approached through Michel Foucault’s concept of ‘technologies of the self’. Dissonant scholarship on ‘practices of freedom’ – technologies of the self that are applied with critical reflection – is examined to construct a workable synthesis. The resultant theoretical construction is then applied to the technologies used by Zambian persons with disabilities to determine whether these may be called practices of freedom. The common assertion in much of the Foucauldian scholarship that practices of freedom lead individuals to practice power in a manner that advances social equality is also interrogated in light of the present study. The study divides the examined technologies of the self into two groups; those that take as their object the physical being in the world of the individual with disabilities, and those that focus on addressing the narratives – both external and internalised – concerning disability and the individual. Technologies of the former kind examined include the management of one’s apparent level of impairment through the selective use and concealment of assistive devices; the incorporation of one’s mobility aids into the body-image; autonomous movement; and the refusal of help. Technologies in the latter category include accepting disability; challenging preconceptions of inability through example; engaging with others to sensitise them to disability; and self-narration that emphasises capability, mobility, financial stability and universal relevance of impairment. This thesis argues that dominant local discourse in Zambia still necessitates persons with disabilities to acquire first the capacity to question the prevailing norms surrounding themselves in order to achieve the kind of autonomy exhibited by the informants in the study. In accordance with the constructed theoretical synthesis, this critical awareness qualifies the technologies of the self utilised by the informants as practices of freedom. On the basis of its modest scope, the study gives conditional backing to the idea that practices of freedom create individuals that contribute to processes of social liberation. It is also noted, however, that technologies that may be considered practices of freedom in the context of disability may simultaneously work to reinforce other oppressive power relationships, such as those concerning gender, and that more research is needed on the intersection of disability with other marginalised identities in order to better understand these connections. In the meanwhile, the study encourages researchers to take care to respect the freedom of their subjects to not advance transformative social agendas with their every action.
  • Leuschel, Mikaela (2018)
    This research examines how social work lecturers and fourth-year students reflect on the journey towards becoming a social worker in the Zambian context, and how the challenges the students face can be understood. Through a case study approach, the research aims to capture the becoming that occurs during the years of education, before the students graduate and enter the field as professionals. The 'becoming' is approached as a process of identity formation, influenced by interconnected external and interior dimensions. The research examines the challenges that the students and lecturers face, both within the training but also in society at large. The concept of becoming is used as a key tool when trying to capture the transition from student to professional. Since the process of becoming is considered to be connected to time, change and transition, the informants have been asked to reflect on the past, the present and the future. The informants discuss their career choice, the training provided at the institution and the professions current status within the Zambian society. The research framework has a postcolonial approach and constitutes of Margaret Archer's theory on reflexivity and Henry Giroux's thoughts on the crisis of higher education. Due to the lack of previous research within this topic, the importance of both contextualising the research, as well as addressing the professions Western roots is emphasised. The study argues that the impacts of colonialism has to be considered when trying to understand and connect the prevailing rhetoric and practices of social work in general. The question of whether the western theories and methods really are applicable in the Zambian context is raised. The concept of indigenous social work and the struggle to localise the profession is discussed in relation to the idea of a standardised, universal and international profession. The empirical phase of the research was carried out in Lusaka in June and July 2017. Eight semi-structured individual interviews with lecturers in social work and one group interview with five fourth-year social work students were conducted at the University of Zambia. A questionnaire completed by 34 fourth-year students in social work was used as a third source of data. The data has been analysed through a thematic approach. The themes were abstracted mainly through a qualitative thematic content analysis, however a quantitative content analysis was also used on the questionnaire to provide the study with an overview of the educational context. The analysis starts with examining how the university training shapes the students’ processes of becoming professional social workers. The lack of teaching resources and the hierarchy within the institution are discussed topics. Further on the analysis examines the informants’ thoughts on the future, both for the graduating students as well as for the profession. One of the main themes that run through the findings is the profession's lack of recognition and resources, which affects the students and practitioners in many ways. The lack of a clear policy for social services as well as the absence of institutional guidance are also challenges that affect the Zambian welfare system and the people working within it. According to the study, these challenges have resulted in a struggle for the profession to form a collective identity and maintain a certain level of professionalism. Another common thread is the need for contextualisation of the profession, meaning redesigning the profession and the education to better fit the local context and decrease the western influences. To conclude, the biggest challenges for both the social work profession in Zambia as well as for the graduating students were said to be the lack of recognition, resources, regulation and local academic knowledge. This study maps out these challenges and how they are positioned in relation to each other.