Eternal Urban Youth? Waithood and Agency in Ethiopian and South African settlements

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Margot Rubin
Paula Meth
Lesego Tshuwa
Sarah Charlton
Eshetayehu Kinfu


It is often reported that young people in Africa, the Middle East and North African regions are stuck in situations of ‘waithood’, unable to progress to full adulthood. Utilising a series of innovative research methodologies that included life history interviews, surveys, media training and qualitative interviews, the research project’s aim was the co-production of data, in order to delve into the housing and work nexus in two non-central locations in Ethiopia and South Africa. The variety of mixed methods that were used yielded a depth of engagement and allowed the researchers to deepen and nuance ideas of waithood and stuckness. The rich and varied data showed how young people move through moments of stuckness and moments of movement, and that some movement is possible even when faced with difficult and sometimes overwhelming structural challenges. It also demonstrated how co-produced research can assist young people in moving forward and countering the experience of stuckness and waithood.

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Research articles (Refereed)