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Title: The question of agency and the reintegration of former child soldiers into civilian society : a case study of Colombia
Author: Kiss, Alexandra Mária
ISNI:       0000 0004 7226 8997
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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Children living in conflict environments are tactical agents. Even though their agency is highly constrained, the majority of them manage to maximise the immediate circumstances of their environment. However, the dominant approach to the reintegration of former child soldiers fails to reflect children’s personal experiences and self-perception, as well as the understanding of childhood and child soldiering prevalent in the receiving communities. This thesis focuses on the previously under-researched case of Colombia. It examines the question of what kind of agency children exhibit in their recruitment and participation in the armed group, together with the implications of such agency for the reintegration process. The core of this empirical analysis is based on twenty life history interviews conducted with adult former child soldiers in Colombia at the beginning of 2014. The thesis makes an original contribution to the existing literature on child soldiers by examining the constraining factors to, and manifestations of, children’s agency in the reintegration period; most existing literature focuses on the pre-recruitment period. Recommendations are also made regarding how to incorporate the question of agency into reintegration programmes. Finally, this study provides a detailed examination of the double role of social capital: enabler and constrainer to children’s agency. Agency played a central part in the stories told by the research participants. Voluntary decisions and actions taken before and during children’s involvement in armed conflict have shown to have significant implications for their reintegration process. The study also confirms the crucial consideration of social factors in prevention and reintegration programmes. However, the thesis argues that the importance of social capital can only be understood if combined with other structural factors, examined within the context in which it functions and if its various characteristics are distinguished.
Supervisor: Caspersen, Nina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available