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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries 6 The Transition to Citizenship INTRODUCTION The transition to adulthood includes the acquisition of civic rights and responsibilities by young people and the possibility for heightened social, civic, and political participation. Opportunities for participation are important for both an individual’s development and socialization as well as for larger social and political goals such as maintaining social contracts, nation building, fostering political and economic stability, and ensuring the sustainability and strength of democracy (Erikson, 1968; Putnam, 2000; Youniss et al., 2002). During this phase of the life cycle, young people assume legal rights and responsibilities in relation to the state and forge identities and relationships with society and groups outside their immediate families. As young people explore and assume active roles in their societies, they develop a sense of belonging and hone decision-making skills that are important for psychosocial development (Erikson, 1968). These relationships and experiences facilitate the growth of social capital, as young people build social networks and gain access to the resources and opportunities that these connections regulate (Portes, 1998). Many of the behaviors and attitudes that individuals adopt as young people predict lifelong civic affiliations and perspectives (Flanagan et al., 1999; Youniss, McLellan, and Yates, 1997). Many of the attributes of successful transitions as defined by the panel—including the acquisition of an appropriate stock of social capital, the acquisition of prosocial values and the ability to contribute to the collective well-being, and the capability to make choices through the acquisition of a
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries sense of self and a sense of personal competence—are all part of effective citizenship in its best sense. Furthermore, the rights and opportunities that young people are granted and the agency they develop as part of the transition to adult citizenship are often closely linked to the outcomes of other important transitions to adulthood, including health, schooling, work, and the acquisition of adult roles in the family, as well as the range of social spaces they are ultimately able to inhabit. In this chapter, we examine the practice of citizenship among young people as well as the institutions, policies, and programs that can foster effective citizenship in the developing world. We define citizenship broadly to encompass not only legal rights and obligations in formal political processes but also engagement with diverse social, cultural, and economic institutions and integration and full participation in families and communities. The nature of citizenship can range widely: at the most constructive end of the spectrum, it is characterized by the guarantee of voice, the development of agency, and the ability to exercise leadership in governing social and political structures; at the other end, it may be characterized by exclusion and repression. Individuals who experience successful transitions to adult citizenship feel invested and engaged; those who don’t often feel isolated and powerless. Individuals excluded from full citizenship may express apathy toward civic involvement, while others may turn to violence in a struggle, either to disrupt the system that denies them full rights and status or to create alternative social orders in which they find belonging and opportunities for participation. Given the enormous political changes that have occurred in many countries in the developing world over the past few decades, we pay particular attention to the ways in which citizenship and community participation may be changing, especially as the “communities” with which young people can engage expand and evolve. Globalization provides them with new opportunities to participate as world citizens. Citizenship is not defined solely by national boundaries or relationships to state governments, but increasingly by interaction with global and local institutions. Young people growing up throughout the world, and especially in developing countries, must be able to negotiate a world with immense political and economic inequities and with societies torn by ethnic or religious conflict. International conventions and agreements have enshrined a set of human rights, state responsibilities, and principles for democratic governance. The young people of today and the leaders of tomorrow will be responsible for promoting, realizing, and enforcing these ideals. As the world is interconnected in ways never before, adults in the twenty-first century need to be prepared to act as global and local citizens who can effectively communicate and cooperate on such issues as the economy, the environment, and security. Although there is a growing body of literature on young people and
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries citizenship in the United States and other developed countries (Flanagan et al., 1999; Putnam, 2000; Torney-Purta et al., 2001; Yates and Youniss, 1999), research dedicated to this subject in most developing countries is only just emerging. The dramatically different histories, sociopolitical arrangements, and cultural conceptions of citizenship and participation of nations in Africa, Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East preclude easy comparisons with the United States and Europe and, similarly, with each other. However, when adequate data from developing countries are not available, we use data from the United States and Europe to illustrate important themes related to the transition to adult citizenship and to highlight potential areas for future research. This dearth of data from developing countries—including ethnographic studies and large-scale statistical analyses—poses a considerable challenge. The entrance of young people into civic and political participation and the factors that affect their attitudes and behavior have not been a subject of much analysis in the development literature until very recently, despite the belief that young people are often the leaders of change and those most willing to critique their government or challenge existing norms (Braungart and Braungart, 1993; Erikson, 1968). Correspondingly, literature on young people has emphasized traditional development imperatives, such as education and health, with only peripheral treatment of the emerging roles of young people as community participants and decision-makers. For example, none of the indicators in the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF’s) State of the World’s Children Report, the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Indicators, or the World Bank’s World Development Indicators looks at youth civic engagement.1 While many nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and programs have been addressing citizenship themes for some time, there is little rigorous documentation or evaluation of these efforts. In this chapter, we bring together the limited knowledge that is available to examine when and how individuals become citizens at the global, national, and local levels. We begin by reviewing changing notions of citizenship in the globalizing world. We then examine when and how individuals receive formal recognition and rights at these multiple levels. The next section examines the practice of citizenship by young people—primarily in Latin America and Asia, where cross-national data on young people are available—including political and civic participation and the modes of so- 1 However, the 2003 UNICEF State of the World’s Children report focuses on child participation. Although no measures of child participation have been permanently incorporated into this report, this edition highlights the important role of civic engagement in the successful development of young people around the globe.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries cial connectedness. We then address the formation of citizenship by young people, with specific attention to how the transition to adult citizenship relates to other important transitions. Finally, we summarize key findings and make recommendations for policy and research. CITIZENSHIP: AN EVOLVING CONCEPT? Historically, concepts of citizenship have been rooted in Western liberal thought regarding the relationship between individuals and the nation-state. Thus, in its narrowest historical meaning, citizenship refers to membership in the nation-state and the formal rights and obligations this membership entails (Shapiro, 2000). Civic participation has been associated with practices that support democratic governance, such as voting, staying engaged with or taking leadership positions in political parties or the government, and staying informed about political affairs. Correspondingly, civic education has generally referred to developing citizens who are well informed, patriotic, and moral and who have an understanding of political processes, systems of government, and citizens’ rights and responsibilities (Morris and Cogan, 2001; Torney-Purta et al., 2001). The pivotal work of T. H. Marshall extended the concern with civil and political rights to social and economic rights (1950). His approach recognizes that the social relationships between individuals and the state and those between individual citizens shape access to the resources and opportunities necessary for people to fully participate as citizens (Ellison, 1997; Lister, 1997; Turner, 1999). Another strand of citizenship theory expands the discussion further by focusing on the attitudes and shared values that form the cultural underpinnings of citizenship (Almond and Verba, 1963). However, the formalized rights and responsibilities outlined by the nation-state are never perfectly achieved by all eligible citizens; it is the set of social practices that connect the individual to the state that give citizenship meaning. The balance and tension between institutionalized rights and responsibilities and the strength of civic culture highlight the ambiguity and dynamism of citizenship in modern society (Mische, 1996). Definitions of citizenship developed in liberal Western democracies cannot simply be transferred to other parts of the world. In particular, the meaning of citizenship and ideas of belonging and identity are often more complex, but no less meaningful, in postcolonial societies. At independence, many new nations have found themselves struggling to create a cohesive identity out of the diverse ethnic, language, and religious groupings that had been brought together by colonialism (Abah and Okwori, 2002; Anderson, 1983; Gaventa, 2002). Rather than coming together under a single nationalism, these alternate sites of identity serve as the foundation for political and economic power in many countries in sub-Saharan
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries Africa. These relationships of ethnic, religious, and language identities mediate both access to rights and resources and the way that individuals relate to the nation-state (Mamdani, 1996). In these constructed nation-states that encompass populations with multiple identities and loyalties, young people from minority communities face particular challenges as they seek access to opportunities that are regulated by a dominant group, such as enrollment at public universities and employment in the civil service (Adebanwi, 2002; Fokwang, 2003). In many developing countries, an individual’s roles and privileges in society may be influenced by their status in kinship, ethnic, and age hierarchies. Typically, these relationships have deeper roots and greater weight than connections to the modern state (Joseph, 1997). The lack of political institutions that link the citizen to the state as well as cultural considerations are important factors to consider when evaluating levels and types of participation (Bratton, 1999). Furthermore, postindependence nation-building has closely linked citizenship with economic growth and opportunities (Khilnani, 1997). As many of the economies and governments in developing countries find themselves unable to deliver on their promises, poverty may contribute to a sense of disenfranchisement or political unrest. A resurgence of interest in citizenship occurred in the late 1980s and 1990s, following the end of the Cold War, the rise of market-led economic policies, and the democratization of many countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the former Soviet Union (Acharya, 1999; Youniss et al., 2002). In many places, these effects of globalization have changed the sociocultural landscape of the nation-state (Appadurai, 1996; Featherstone, Lash, and Robertson, 1995). These changes have meant that civic learning could not simply be passed down from generation to generation, but that all citizens were novices (Flanagan et al., 1999; Marr and Rosen, 1998). Several forces, such as the pervasiveness of market-led economic change, the revolution in information and communication technology, and transnational flows of people, have made a rethinking of citizenship imperative. The types of skills needed to become effective participants in a global society are changing rapidly, and people’s movements across borders result in transnational identities and obligations. The idea of citizenship itself is in great flux as the ingredients for meaningful participation in society evolve. For example, access to media and information technology has become an essential way for staying engaged in society. Furthermore, greater mobility and better communication technology allow religious, ethnic, or ideological groups to organize across national borders in order to fight for rights and hold states accountable for their actions (Castells, 2000; Keck and Sikkink, 1998). The acceleration of the pace of change, another contemporary feature
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries of globalization, has created additional challenges for the formation of citizens. For example, urbanization and industrialization can often be disruptive to existing social and cultural systems, making it more difficult for young people to integrate into cohesive community networks, and making it more likely that they resort to violence in order to establish their membership and status (Heitmeyer, 2002). Furthermore, the rapidly growing populations of young people present challenges to governments to provide adequate education, employment, and health services (Brockerhoff, 2000). The challenges of participating in a highly competitive market economy have also made traditional livelihoods less sustainable, with many communities and young people getting left behind (Richards, 1996). All of these changes can contribute to the alienation of young people and the potential for harmful activities. Globalization has been associated with rising awareness of deep economic and political inequalities. The disparity between universalistic concepts of citizenship, which guarantee rights for all, and the actual reality, in which poverty, gender, race, and ethnicity inhibit individuals from full participation, has spurred renewed theorization about this subject. “Inclusive” citizenship refers to a situation in which no one is disenfranchised or unable to participate fully in civic or political affairs. Kabeer (2002) outlines what she thinks are the most critical barriers to inclusive citizenship: ethnic and religious divides in postcolonial societies, such social inequities as gender and poverty, and issues of culture and identity. Inclusive citizenship encompasses a broad set of meanings, central to which are ideas of participation and agency (Lister, 1997). These definitions are not confined solely to interactions with the state but extend to individuals’ engagement with all of civil society. Feminist critiques of citizenship theory bring attention not only to the degree to which women may not be able to participate in formal political life but also to the domestic sphere of life as a crucial terrain in which citizenship is exercised on a daily basis (Dietz, 1998; Pateman, 1988; Phillips, 1998). Even in societies in which the domain of women is separate from that of men, women may still exercise power and influence when they are able to create a public world of their own (Rosaldo, 1974). For young women making the transition to adulthood, the existence of safe social spaces in which girls can interact with their female peers serves as a critical site for the development of self-esteem and identity, building the foundations for future community engagement. The recognition of citizenship as an expression of agency expands the understanding of the subtleties that influence participation. In this context, agency is more than the capacity to make choices and act on those decisions; it involves a conscious capacity to act (Lister, 1997). This conscious sense of agency operates at both the personal and the political levels and is
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries crucial for the full realization of one’s capabilities. Self-esteem and a sense that one is worthy of participation in political life mediate decision-making and one’s ability to utilize the resources of human and social capital. Together these build a sense of political competence that is a necessary condition of active citizenship (Kabeer, 2000; Lister, 1997). Modern conceptions of citizenship are interconnected with development and human rights approaches. These approaches insist that individuals be active participants in development projects, and that they be engaged in the decisions and processes that affect their lives (Holland, Blackburn, and Chambers, 1998). The participation-in-development approach arose from efforts to foster decision-making by the poor, promote a good governance agenda for governments, and advocate a rights-based approach to development (Gaventa, 2002). Combating the formal and informal forces of social exclusion, particularly as it extends to forms of economic inequality, has become a key theme in recent development policy (United Nations Development Programme, 2002). Active citizenship is also an integral component of human rights discourse, which has become increasingly influential as a framework for pursuing development goals in a sustainable and just manner (Sen, 1999). Despite this new thinking, however, most indicators of citizenship—reflected in the literature cited in this chapter—continue to be oriented toward the measurement of conventional forms of political party participation and voting for candidates to public office. In the current global era, citizenship must be understood to encompass multiple meanings, from membership and participation in the nation-state to various other social and political interests, activities, and memberships, ranging from the household to the local community to the global arena. Furthermore, citizenship must be understood to encompass not only the rights and responsibilities of membership but also the acquisition of the capabilities to exercise those rights and responsibilities. In the discussion we give special attention to the transition to full citizenship and civic participation, a process that, if it occurs at all, typically occurs during adolescence. Given the panel’s criteria for successful transitions, the definition of a successful transition to adult citizenship must include the capability to make choices through the acquisition of a sense of self and a sense of personal competence, as well as the acquisition of prosocial values and the ability to contribute to the collective well-being as citizen and community participant. FORMAL AND LEGAL RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP The ages at which individuals are granted rights by the state or held accountable for their actions indicates social recognition of accountability and the responsibilities often associated with the onset of adulthood. Most
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries of the formal norms granting rights and recognizing individuals occur at the national level. However, global platforms and local communities have become critical sites in promoting young peoples’ rights, social spaces, and status. Youth Citizenship Rights at the Global Level Since the inception of the United Nations (UN), important conventions (which carry the force of international law among signatory countries) and agreements (derived from international meetings and conferences and thus less binding upon signatory countries) have sought to establish rights and create beneficial conditions for people, including children and young people. Notable among these global commitments are: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (San Francisco, 1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (New York, 1966), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (New York, 1966), the World Summit for Children (New York, 1990), the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development (Rio, 1992), the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995), the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995), the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Istanbul, 1996), and the World Food Summit (Rome, 1996). International agreements and conventions have broadened interpretations of citizenship and rights, spawned social action and political activity, and provided a political forum beyond the nation. The approaches promoted in these documents have been adopted by such implementing agencies as UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme as well as many international and national NGOs. Few agreements and conventions specify an age at which individuals are guaranteed rights. The Convention on the Rights of the Child defines children as those under age 18, but it includes limited language that differentiates adolescents from younger children. Ratified by all countries except Somalia and the United States, it outlines such child rights as freedom to express views in all matters affecting the child, freedom of thought and
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries religion, freedom of association, access to national and international media, and entitlements to education, health care, a safe living environment, and nationality (United Nations, 1989). Articles and conventions providing protections for young workers (discussed in Chapter 5) and juvenile offenders also specify minimum ages. Nevertheless, attention by international agencies and national governments to young people as a population with particular attributes and needs emerged with great force in the mid-1980s, with the enactment of the International Youth Year in 1985, followed by special sessions of the UN General Assembly in 1985 and 1995. These discussions culminated in the adoption of the UN World Program of Action for Youth in the Year 2000 and Beyond (PAY)—a document that builds on the various references to young people expressed in previous global forums, including the 1992 UN Convergence on Environment and Development, 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), 1995 World Summit for Social Development, and 1995 UN Fourth World Conference on Women. PAY commits governments to adopt a series of actions, beginning with the formulation of a national youth policy, progressing toward the translation of this policy into a youth program of action, and then implementing these activities. As in previous instances of other global agreements, the declarations of intent exceed by far actions taken by governments at the national level. Commitments made at the Children’s World Summit in 1996 have been poorly followed. At present, 13 years after the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and almost 10 years after the Children’s World Summit, very few countries in the world have developed action plans for children. Girls and young women have received specific mention in several conventions, complementing the rights established for adult women in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, first adopted in 1979 and ratified by 177 countries as of March 2004.2 Most attention in these conventions has been given to civil rights and the legal status of women as well as to their reproductive rights. The Program of Action of the World Social Summit for Social Development devotes particular attention to younger women because of the recognition that gender equality and equity and the full participation of women in all economic, social, and political activities are essential to attain social development (United Nations, 1989:Point 15.g). Similar objectives were further reiterated at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 2 A list of countries that have ratified the convention is regularly updated and available at: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/states.htm.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries (United Nations, 1996). Likewise, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Program of Action dedicates substantial attention to adolescents in Chapter VII, on “Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health.”3 Global commitments by states are not always implemented, but some of them do have significant impacts. According to the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Durston, 1995), the 1990 World Summit for Children and the 27 specific goals it identified have served as a powerful stimulus for improvements in the health, nutrition, and education of children in Latin America. In addition to establishing the rights of young people, international governmental and nongovernmental organizations have granted young people some opportunities to participate in international conventions, conferences, and dialogues. Each member country of the UN is invited to include a youth representative in their delegation to the General Assembly; however, as of 2003 only six countries had appointed such representatives.4 Youth delegates have played a more active role at recent UN conferences, such as the World Summit for Social Development in 2002, at which the youth caucus led debates on energy and labor, and the five-year review meeting of the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5), at which young participants formed the Youth Coalition, an international group of 15-29-year-olds committed to promoting adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health rights and knowledge. Other nongovernmental organizations have supported international organizations of young people, such as the Global Youth Action Network,5 which mobilizes youth organizations for participation and collaboration on international issues, and Oxfam International, which organizes the International Youth Parliament.6 However, many global youth activism groups acknowledge that announcements of forthcoming conferences and meetings are primarily posted on web sites and listservs, thereby restricting participation to those with access to the Internet (Lombardo, Zakus, and 3 Only once does it refer explicitly to male adolescents, when they appear mentioned together with adolescent females concerning the need of governments to provide them with “information, education, and counseling to help them delay early family formation, premature sexual activity, and first pregnancy” (United Nations, 1994:Paragraph 8.24). 4 At the 2003 session of the United Nations General Assembly, youth representatives were part of the delegations from Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. The session in 2000 also included youth representatives from Bangladesh and India. A complete list is available at: http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unyin/youthrep.htm. 5 Information about the Global Youth Action Network can be found at: http://www.globalyouthactionnetwork.org. 6 Information about the International Youth Parliament can be found at: http://www.iyp.oxfam.org.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries Skinner, 2002). Furthermore, for almost all of these organizations, young people are chosen to participate after completing lengthy applications that describe their past commitments to youth activism and social justice; of the few young people who do participate in discussions at the international level, the voices heard are often those with the most resources and the best education. National Citizenship Rights: Young People and the State An essential component of citizenship and political participation is an individual’s relationship with the state. This relationship can include formal citizenship privileges, such as the right to vote and the ability to run for office; entail the laws governing military service or access to health care, education, and employment opportunities; involve the treatment of individuals in the criminal justice system; and define the treatment of foreign visitors, immigrants, and refugees. It is during the period of adolescence that individuals assume adult status in the eyes of the state. In this section we look at how different governments legally define the transition to adult citizenship by reviewing the age at which young people gain full rights and responsibilities. Table 6-1 presents the legal ages at which young people are able to vote, leave school, begin work, join or be conscripted into the army, and be held responsible for their actions in the criminal justice system. (The legal age at marriage, a particularly important indicator of adulthood in the eyes of the state, is discussed in Chapter 7.) The table documents the variability in the minimum ages at which individuals are granted rights by the state within and across countries. In countries that have a minimum age for leaving school or starting work, the ages tend to fall in the mid-teens. The majority of countries listed in the table allows young people to exercise the right to vote at 18, although a small number of countries give citizens this right at slightly older or younger ages. In many countries there is no minimum age for school leaving, employment, or military recruitment, if there is parental consent. Although minimum age laws set national standards for the timing of various status transitions, these laws often differ vastly from actual practice.7 When information is available, the table also notes when military service is open to females in addition to males. Policies pertaining to education, work, and marriage are covered in other chapters, but policies on juvenile crime deserve closer attention here. 7 Although not listed in Table 6-1, representation in government offices is another way to formally recognize social groups. However, comparative data on the minimum age at which individuals can hold public office and on whether there are government positions set aside for young people are not available.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries opportunities for citizenship through employment are more limited. However, the gap between young men’s and women’s employment is narrowing. Young women are further excluded from social and political engagement in public spaces through the burden of their domestic labor, which is heavy during the adolescent years even when they are attending school (Ritchie et al., 2004). These responsibilities leave young women with little leisure time to spend engaged in community organizations or political activism. However, when paid work is available for women, it can expand the public roles available to them. For instance, Salem, Ibrahim, and Brady (2003) discuss how young women in four rural Egyptian communities used their positions as promoters for a local NGO to participate more fully in their communities and acquire valuable social and political experience—opportunities that are rarely available to adolescent girls in rural Egypt. Although their participation was constrained by patriarchal and age norms, the young women were able to negotiate new public spaces and roles for themselves. Likewise, young women who enter the labor force through factory employment report increased mobility and expanded social relationships beyond the immediate family (Amin et al., 1998; Lynch, 1999). Nonetheless, some adolescents who work may face the same isolation and lack of opportunities for citizenship and community participation as out-of-school youth confront. The most vulnerable adolescents are those who work while attending school, who work at too young an age, who work without the protection of a caring adult, or who work under hazardous conditions. The structure and intensity of work may prevent working adolescents from accessing or developing protective social and cultural networks. Domestic workers are a good example, because they work away from their family in unfamiliar surroundings and without protection. The time demands of labor constrain the amount of leisure time that is available for civic participation and political engagement. Furthermore, if young people are forced to assume adult labor and income-generating responsibilities but are not given a role in personal and household decision-making, they may become rebellious and alienated (Rhodes, Mihyar, and El-Rous, 2002; Tienda and Wilson, 2002). Young people at particular risk are those who are neither enrolled in school nor employed outside the household. Rarely are these young people actually doing nothing, but rather are involved in domestic labor and unpaid work in family enterprises. These roles—unregulated and unseen—are a direct reflection of children’s lack of agency (Levison, 2000). Using micro-level data from 18 Latin American countries, Menezes-Filho (2003) found that more 16-17-year-olds than 12-13-year-olds were neither in school nor working. This increase in invisibility by age was also found among young women in a nationally representative sample of young people in Pakistan (Sathar et al., 2003a). Young women are of particular risk, since they are
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries more likely than young men to be outside these formal structures. Since the social mobility of young women is often more restricted than that of young men, they are even more vulnerable to exclusion from participation in community activities. In addition to young people who are engaged in unpaid household labor and unpaid work, there is also concern for those who are looking for work but who are unable to find it. Psychological studies have found that educated unemployed young people express a greater sense of alienation than educated employed ones (Singh, Singh, and Rani, 1996), while others have found that unemployed young people express less confidence in existing political systems, talk less about politics, and more frequently support revolutionary political ideas than their employed peers (Bay and Blekesaune, 2002). For instance, unemployed young people played a vital role in the political movements that shaped Senegal in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Young people in general were largely excluded from the rites of political participation, and the social frustration of the elite and educated turned to political violence to “express [their] disillusionment with the outcome of the restoration of democratic rule” (Diouf, 1996:229). In contrast, poor adolescent girls in rural Ecuador found that their aspirations to participate in a modernized society—built through education and exposure to the media—were thwarted by their lack of access to social capital and the formal economy (Miles, 2000). Opportunities for Military or National Service Military service serves as an important means for expressing patriotic sentiments and developing a sense of civic responsibility. In countries with a modern military, service in the armed forces may be an opportunity to gain valuable technical skills that will lead to future employment. Some countries, such as Bolivia, provide literacy classes to supplement basic training exercises, and enlistment in various specialties may include training in areas in which skills are transferable, such as engineering and medicine (Marshall, 2000).24 Even when specialization is not available, such experience as driving military vehicles may also transfer into future civilian employment. However, in most countries, only men are subject to compulsory recruitment policies, whereas the enlistment of women is usually voluntary. Furthermore, women in most countries are excluded from combat duty and are often restricted to clerical or medical duties. These limitations often 24 Ellen Marshall, formerly with the U.S. State Department, shared cables from U.S. embassies around the world providing, in response to a series of questions, unclassified information and data, as of 2000, on national military and service programs.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries exclude women from eligibility to be an officer, thereby restricting the extent to which they can fully participate or aspire to achieve in these contexts. Military service may represent an alternative pathway to training and citizenship for young people who have not been successful at school or are unable to afford to continue in school. In countries without compulsory enlistment, it is often young people from the poorest, least educated, and most marginalized segments of society who are encouraged to join the armed forces as an economic and employment alternative. Although this may be the only opportunity for some young people to gain transferable skills, there is concern for the mental and physical well-being of young people who enlist in the military prior to age 18 (Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, 2001). Child soldiers drawn directly from conflict zones are of particular concern. There are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers in the world, defined as young people younger than age 18 who are participating in armed conflict (Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, 2001). Although this estimate also includes young people who voluntarily enlisted in formal national service, the most publicized cases are of young people who have been forced into guerrilla groups, such as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Sudan. Many of these young men may have been coerced into participation, or else may have been left with few alternatives when family members were killed, wounded, displaced, or otherwise split apart (Richards, 1996). With both the physical environment devastated, as well as all normalcy in social relations at a standstill, these young people do not grow up in an environment that offers much security. Their transition to adult citizenship may be characterized by fear, violence, and insecurity. They may also feel that it is difficult or even impossible to have an impact on their environments. For young people in some settings, the opportunity to join an independence struggle or civil conflict may be the only way to take up an adult role and contribute to their community (Richards, 1996). Participation in organized resistance can be a forum for political education, learning organizing skills, and leadership. For example, this may have happened among South Africa’s young people in their struggle against apartheid (Marks, 2001). Elsewhere, participation in military service has been shown to enhance responsibility, self-esteem, independence, and the ability to control impulses and withstand pressures (Mayseless, 1993). In addition to military service, national service programs can also serve as institutions that bridge the transition from adolescence to adulthood and foster civic development. Most government-sponsored nonmilitary service programs focus on enhancing development and building the human capital
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries infrastructure. For example, national service programs in Burkina Faso and Ghana assign recent university and polytechnic graduates to rural areas to work in education, health, and agriculture (Marshall, 2000). Not only do these programs benefit rural communities by distributing skilled workers throughout the country, but also national service participants are exposed to the issues and needs of rural civil society. Media and Citizenship As information and communication technologies have become more available throughout the world, the media has assumed an important role in the political socialization of young people. By creating a public space in which information can be distributed and debated, the media can contribute to the construction of adult citizenship values and practices (Buckingham, 2000; Habermas, 1989). Television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet are important sites for the dissemination of political and public health information campaigns, as well as sources of civic information and popular culture. Aware of the influence of the mass media on young people, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, 1989) gives it considerable attention in Article 17, which encourages mass media enterprises to “disseminate information and materials of social and cultural benefits to the child” and to be sensitive to the “linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous.” Although the majority of global media outlets are now dominated by a handful of multinational corporations, there is some indication with respect to television that domestic programming tops the ratings when it is available (Hoskins and Mirus, 1988; Thussu, 2000). However, the proliferation of information and communication technologies is causing rapid transformations in all areas of life, from the speed with which information can be shared to the support of Internet-based communities that transcend national borders. Young people are among those most engaged with these new forms of communication, filtering and integrating new information to forge their identities and gain new skills (Martin-Barbero, Fox, and White, 1993; Suoranta, 2003). Despite the importance of the media as a globalizing force for cultural change, many parts of the developing world have poor access to most forms of information and communication technologies. Although a recent survey of students in eight cities in India found that 48 percent of school-going youth accessed the Internet at cyber cafes, this disguises the lack of access to the Internet in rural areas and among the poor (NetSense, 2002). While this level of connectivity is promising, it highlights the geographic and socioeconomic distribution of access. Not only is access mediated by the availability of elec-
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries tricity and telephone lines, but the cost of most forms of technology makes household access prohibitively expensive in many parts of the developing world (United Nations Development Programme, 1999). The Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) include questions on whether respondents watch television at least once a week, read the newspaper at least once a week, or listen to the radio every day. Furthermore, the DHS household surveys recorded household ownership of televisions, radios, and telephones, providing an indicator of household access to these forms of media. One of the most striking results of the surveys is the large number of young people, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, who do not have access to any of these three media (Table 6-10).25 Household ownership of televisions and radios was lowest in these regions, leaving young people largely dependent on accessing these forms of technology at a neighbor’s house or other local common viewing areas. In contrast, household ownership of radios was higher then ownership of televisions in all regions except the former Soviet Asia, pointing to its lower cost and reliance on batteries instead of electricity. Across sub-Saharan Africa the radio was the most commonly accessed medium, with more young people listening to radio daily than had regular access to television. Television and radio have long been employed to disseminate political information and organize political involvement, from broadcasting campaign messages and encouraging voter turnout on election days to providing forums for political debate. For example, radio programs have been used in countries as diverse as Zambia and the Dominican Republic to educate the public about the government, political parties, and the election cycle (Bratton et al., 1999; Finkel, 2002). Although household ownership of radios roughly corresponds to the number of young people reporting that they listened to the radio regularly, the number who watched television was much higher than household ownership. This means that many may go to a neighbor’s house or some type of community center in order to watch television. This is a particularly interesting arena for future research; audience research in developed countries has shown that the social interaction of group viewing and the subsequent discussion of television programs have an important relationship to the interpretation of the message (Lull, 1988). The way in which young people talk about television often bears a strong relationship to attitudes toward civic engagement (Buckingham, 2000). Not only is this likely to be the context in which many political and civic identities are forged, but it is also an opportunity to promote social connectedness. 25 Data for Asia and the Middle East include only the married, a very selective sample at ages 15-19.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries TABLE 6-10 Media Access, 15-19-Year-Olds (Weighted Averages) Region Television Radio Newspaper Watch at Least Once a Week Household Ownership Listen Daily Household Ownership Read at Least Once a Week Female Male Female Male Female Male Former Soviet Asia 92 90 90 46 26 52 59 39 Western and Middle Africa 45 56 20 43 61 58 20 28 Southern and Eastern Africa 22 21 15 38 41 47 21 21 Caribbean/Central America 71 64 51 69 65 68 47 44 South America 86 90 70 80 76 86 59 60 SOURCE: Demographic and Health Surveys.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries However, other research has shown that heavy television viewing is associated with a “mainstreaming” of political views. In a study of Argentinean adolescents in Buenos Aires and its surrounding 41 towns, Morgan and Shanahan (1991) found that young people who were heavy television viewers (more than 30 hours a week) were more likely than light viewers (less than 20 hours a week) to agree that people should obey authority and to approve of limits on the freedom of speech. Heavy television viewing was significantly associated with less diversity in outlooks and a decrease in the impact of other demographic influences. Although the data did not allow the researchers to address the nature of this relationship, they hypothesized that, among heavy viewers, time spent watching television may preclude participation in civic activities that might promote more “democratic” political thinking (Morgan and Shanahan, 1991). Beyond the political spectrum, the images, actions, and words broadcast through the media become part of the common cultural language shared by all members of the audience. Although there are few data available, it is also important to consider how the Internet contributes to the construction of civic knowledge and behavior. Both a source of information and social connections, the Internet is the most rapidly growing form of media today. However, access to the Internet is even more sharply divided globally than any other form of information and communication technology. From 1999 to 2002, global access to the Internet tripled; by the year 2005, it is anticipated that over 1 billion people may be on line (Nua, 2003; United Nations Development Programme, 1999; World Bank, 2003). However, the majority of access is restricted to Europe, Canada, and the United States. As of 2002, the Middle East and Africa combined accounted for only 6 percent of all global Internet use (Nua, 2002). Furthermore, over 80 percent of material on the Internet is posted in English, thereby limiting its potential for anyone who is not fluent (Nua, 2002; United Nations Development Programme, 1999). This digital divide has profound consequences, particularly for a media whose usage is dominated by young people around the globe. The digital divide is not limited to differentials between countries; in any given nation access is also regulated by education, socioeconomic status, and residence in an urban or rural area (Suoranta, 2003). Not only is access mediated by literacy and fluency in English, but use of the Internet also requires basic computer literacy. Furthermore, there is concern that this difference in access will also expand the knowledge gap, whereby young people with access to the Internet will benefit not only from the content of the knowledge and connections formed, but also from the abstract skills gained from conducting searches for information, processing and filtering what is retrieved, and using the subsequent information (Castells, 2000; Suoranta, 2003).
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS Key Findings The political and civic interests and behaviors of young people are important topics for future research. In recent years, the definition of citizenship has been broadened beyond the individual’s relationship with the nation-state to encompass various dimensions of political and civic participation. At the same time, elements of rapid global change, including democratization and the rise of civil society, the growing reach of the media, and the formation of transnational identities, have all contributed to a growing appreciation of the importance of citizenship in the development process. As a result, such issues as the formation of citizenship and the role of young people as citizens have taken on increased prominence and attention in the development literature. Youth participation in civil society and political life has recently emerged as an important development objective. Many international organizations and NGOs now recognize the importance of involving young people in development planning and addressing their needs. Young people are expressing greater voice at the local, national, and international levels and pushing agendas that address their concerns. Most developing country governments now recognize 18 as the legal age of majority. Typically, this is the age at which citizens are given the right to vote and young men are subject to compulsory recruitment to the military. However, significant age gaps still remain between the time at which young people are held responsible for adult actions, such as the age of criminal responsibility and the minimum age for employment, and the age at which they are legally able to express a political voice. Current cross-national surveys are inadequate for investigating young people’s transition to citizenship. The results of many surveys that have made the effort to include young adults from developing countries are rarely presented by both age and gender, in part because many have not sampled a sufficient number of young adults to allow more discrete descriptive analysis. Although these characteristics are often included as explanatory variables in regressions, the distinct patterns of involvement by young adults have not been given sufficient attention. The set of indicators currently available for measuring the participation, agency, and empowerment of young people are inadequate. Many of the data sets that measure the political and civic involvement of young people
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries have been adapted from public opinion surveys of adults and are grounded in the traditional indicators of citizenship as derived from Western theory. Few adequately capture regionally specific forms of participation or the collective forms of agency used by young people. Men are more likely to participate in traditional political activities than women. Young men are more likely than young women to express interest in politics, vote, join political parties, although there is some evidence that the gender gap in political interest closes as the gender gap in the educational attainment and labor force participation of women decreases. Young people are more likely than older adults to participate in community organizations. Young men and women are more likely to be involved with arts, sports, and religious activities in almost all of the regions for which there are data; although there are few data available to explain this trend, differences may be due to differences in the discretionary time of young people in comparison to older adults. Among young people, participation in these organizations is highly gendered, with young men more likely to be involved in sports organizations and young women more likely to be engaged with religious or arts activities. Young people have greater trust in religious institutions and the press than in public institutions. They are more likely to express trust in the religious institutions than they are in the national government, the police, or the civil service. Furthermore, there is evidence that older adolescents are less trusting of all institutions than younger adolescents. Policy Recommendations Governments should work toward greater consistency in operational definitions of adulthood, particularly as they relate to various aspects of the practice of citizenship, including voting, military service, and criminal responsibility. The panel’s review of laws relating to the legal age of majority reveals many inconsistencies across and within countries in ages of majority. Civic education should include the acceptance of diversity, the teaching of prosocial values, opportunities for participation in school governance, and media literacy. The majority of current civic education programs focus on teaching the function and purpose of government and the law. School-based and nonschool-based programs should extend instruction beyond basic civics in order to foster critical thinking and service learning.
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries Programs designed to enhance the capabilities of young people should actively address issues of participation in the public domain. Self-confidence and participation in decision-making influence a young person’s self-recognition as a political actor. These skills are closely connected to the economic and social outcomes most frequently addressed. Compensatory programs for girls and other disadvantaged groups that combine nonformal education and livelihoods training with opportunities for group participation should be developed in order to help them overcome their social isolation. When young women and other disadvantaged individuals are able to develop a public sphere of their own, they can be empowered to acquire a sense of self and of personal competence and can gain a network of peers, which can serve as a source of social capital during the transition to adulthood. As young women develop a sense of political competence, they will be able to exercise greater voice in the family, community, and nation-state. Priority should be placed on building the infrastructure systems that will provide greater equality of access to information and communication technologies. Social, economic, and political development is increasingly dependent on access to forms of information and communication technologies. The current digital divide is influenced by the availability of electricity, the cost of services, and the literacy and language requirements of the media. The skills deficit of young people without access to the Internet and other forms of media will only deepen economic inequities. Research Recommendations The social, political, and economic environment in which young people are maturing is changing rapidly. In-depth qualitative research holds the most promise for capturing the diversity of structures, networks, and opportunities that young people use to engage with their communities and to participate in the political sphere. Only after the range of these practices has been identified can quantitative surveys adequately measure the levels and implications of youth participation. Furthermore, it is important that empirical research investigate the roles that ethnicity, religion, and other forms of identity play in shaping the formation and practice of citizenship by young people. How is citizenship actually developed and practiced in developing country contexts? What are the relevant indicators? In what ways do
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Growing Up Global: The Changing Transitions to Adulthood in Developing Countries community-based nonformal organizations provide opportunities for the formation and practice of citizenship? How do civic participation and attitudes toward politics differ between young citizens in new democracies and young citizens in established democracies? What does it mean to be a citizen in an authoritarian state? What are the appropriate indicators for measuring the agency and community engagement of young people? What are the levels and types of political processes that young people participate in? What motivates them to engage or disengage with political processes? How does the acquisition of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship relate to the success of other transitions to adulthood? How are emerging forms of media (e.g., the Internet, mobile phones, independent radio) affecting the ways in which citizenship formation and practice are evolving? How are rising levels of school enrollment influencing the relationship between citizens and the state? What are the strategies used by young people to maintain social connections in the developing world’s rapidly growing urban centers? How have the transnational flows of people, capital, and communication technologies influenced the formation and practice of citizenship and community engagement of young people? What forms of transnational activism do young people pursue? How are they changing in response to new information and communication technologies? What issues motivate these movements? What role does religion play in expressing political views and identities among young people? To what extent is it important to understand how the determinants of citizenship and the impact of citizenship differ by groups defined by such characteristics as gender, class, ethnicity, race, caste, tribe, and religion? To what extent can causal effects be identified for all these aspects of the determinants or the impact of citizenship?
Representative terms from entire chapter: