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Title: Social mobility and aspirations : young Colombians in Cartagena : navigating opportunities, spaces and futures
Author: Marzi, Sonja
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 0738
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2016
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The role of young people’s aspirations to achieve upward social mobility, social mobility being defined as people’s upward or downward movement in relation to others within the same society with respect to status or social class (Gough, 2008, Azevedo and Bouiilon, 2010), has been of increasing interest in international development. Especially for young people of disadvantaged social backgrounds, high aspirations are perceived as the main driver for future enhanced social conditions (Appadurai, 2004). With a particular focus on educational and occupational aspirations, young people are encouraged to aim for higher education and higher occupational outcomes to achieve upward social mobility (Kintrea et al., 2015). However this discourse shifts the responsibility of achieving upward social mobility and for being successful adults in the future, on to young people themselves, promoting social mobility as an individualised obligation (Brown, 2011, Spohrer, 2011). Yet social mobility and corresponding aspirations are not attained independently of young people’s social context. In order to enhance their social mobility they need to acquire the necessary social and cultural capitals and have access to adequate opportunities within their social and physical environment to navigate themselves towards their aspirations. Informed by ethnographic and participatory fieldwork, this thesis explores young Colombians’ (age 15-22) aspirations for social mobility in Cartagena and adds to the critique of the increasingly powerful discourse about the need to enhance disadvantaged young people’s aspirations in order to achieve upward social mobility (cf. Kintrea et al., 2015). Cartagena is described as a city of many realities, made up of ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ neighbourhoods, offering unequal opportunities to its residents. This stratification is one legacy of a long history of slavery and colonialism. I present young Cartagenians’ aspirations and what they perceive as drivers and constraints of social mobility. Drawing upon the concepts of habitus, and social and cultural capital, I analyse the importance of how young Cartagenians’ sense of belonging to poorer neighbourhoods influences their opportunities to achieve upward social mobility. This research contributes to the knowledge of young people’s attempts to formulate aspirations and navigate their way towards these within a post-colonial setting in the global South from a qualitative research II perspective. It explores the intersecting relationships between aspirations, belonging, spatial and social mobility, and opportunity structures accessible to young Cartageneros.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available