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close this section of the library Homeless youth -- Fiji

View the PDF document In the system but out of place : understanding street-frequenting young people in Suva, Fiji
Author: Vakaoti, Patrick.
Institution: University of Queensland
Award: Ph.D.
Subject: Street youth -- Fiji, Homeless youth -- Fiji
Date: 2008.
Call No.: pac In Process
Copyright:10-20% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: Modern development experienced in Fiji following independence has resulted in significant changes to the socio-cultural and economic landscape of Fijian society. One notable development is the creation of urban spaces that act as the central precinct for business, leisure and entertainment and government administration. In creating an alternative space, this development has led to the increasingly free movement of both families and individuals from the rural to the urban areas. Whilst many enjoy a legitimate existence others have not been so fortunate as in the case of street frequenting youths. The dominant discourse of transgression treats them as problematic for they exist outside what is considered by the state and mainstream society to be their normative spaces of existence. Apart from their visibility, however, little is known about the nature of their existence. This thesis attempts to understand this in three ways. Firstly, it explores their construction by mainstream society as being ‘out of place’, by locating them within the realm of the dominant Fijian discourses of normative space and the social categories of childhood and youth. Secondly, it shows how despite this construction the children and young people choose a street existence to feel at ‘home’. Here they create meaningful spaces of work, develop survival traits, identities, styles and engage in leisure pursuits. In essence they live out a distinct lifestyle within what they call the ‘system’. Finally, the thesis discusses how this presence is seen to disrupt the moral order inviting social intervention that hopes to reclaim and reintegrate these children and young people into mainstream society.This study adopted a constructivist methodology which is congruent with the participatory research paradigm and which recognises the rights of children and young people and accords them a ‘voice’. In an attempt to reflect their reality the research employed participatory research methods in the form of observations, focus groups, photo voice and in-depth interviews with ten street-frequenting young people and eighteen stakeholder representatives. This research contributes to the growing body of work in the geographies of children and young people particularly about street children in developing countries. At the local level it raises awareness about the social world of street-frequenting young people in Suva, Fiji and addresses the gap that exists in relation to understanding them. On a broader scale it challenges much of that which is unquestioned about the normative spaces of Fijian society and the urban space discourse that constructs the issue of street-frequenting young people. Finally the thesis discusses ways by which these children and young people could be better appreciated and understood, not as problems but as individuals and a distinct social group with equal dignity and worth.
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