Annegret Warth - Being actor or 'being pushed' ?


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Workshop on Participation of Young People in Civil Society
15-16 November 2013

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  • I'd like to present some first findings and hypothesises of my phd research on youth peergroups and point out the relevances for pedagogical work with young people.
    For anyone of you who askes him or herself how a german women comes up to to her field study in Istanbul or Turkey I can briefly say that this is a result of an Erasmus term, followed by a placement and another voluntary year in a local youth center which was formerly run by youth studies unit.
    Firstly I will present the outlines of my study and argue for the relevance of an understanding of participation, which does not focus on ##### but rather looks for individual implications of different environments.
    Secondly I will share with you quotes and finding of two different female peer groups, who describe some life world contextes from their point of view.
    Thirdly I would like to discuss with you how the findings implications the findings could have for settings of voluntary work or youth work.
  • My research youth peer groups between the age of 14-18 in Istanbul. I have conducted group discussions with young people of different ages and social backgrounds asking them to tell about their all day practices in different life world contextes such as family, neighbourhoods, peer group activites,..
    My point of interest is, how these peer groups relate themselves to their different life worlds. I also focus on restrictions they describe and how they deal with them. I also aim on working out the heterogenity of life conditions, thats why I have conducted group discussions with peer groups from different socio economic backgrounds to reveal different ways of being young but also different type of restrictions they may face.
    While for a young person from lower socio-econmic background who becomes familiar with youth culture, the social order of the neighbourhood may be a major topic of restriciton, for a student of a private high school, neighbourhood may have no impact. But for him/her meeting friends from school can challenge because he and his friends life all scatterd around in upper class gated communities.
    The study is let by the premise that in adolesence, peer groups play a specific and important role for the development of orientations. Within peer groups collective activities happen but they also articulate their collective experiences and opinions, for instance the things they enjoy and strive for but also the things they have to handle or cope with. With the Documentary Method, a reconstructive method which was developed in Germany on the background of sociology of knowledge by Mannheim, Ethnometodology of Garfinkel and Bourdieu, I focus on tacit knowledge (the question how things are expressed) and collective orientations.
     So I will approach the topic of participation from a very specific point, which differs to most of the discussions before.
  • My material is suitable to be asked for subjective and biographic meanings of participation and also experiences of participation which happens outside of of formal procedures, political participation or voluntary activities.
    So the questions refers ageny-theories, about the relation between agency and structure, which is, when I follow Andreas Walther also a question with is linked to participation as he defined it as „always displays a tension between self-realisation and alienation of individuals in modern societies.“
  • I first want to share with you material of group discussions with two female groups at the age of 18, which are about to graduate from Lyceum, High school, with the exeption of one participant who already is studying at a two years branch university.
    Although the groups Köşk (manor house) and Çimen (grass or lawn) talk about very different topics and experiences during the group discussion, they have a common background as their parents are primary school graduates. Their mothers are house wifes and fathers are workers such as ########. The students are about to graduate from vocational (Köşk) and general high school (Cimen). So theycome from a lower social background and also live in traditional neighbourhoods of istanbul.
    I have chosen these two groups because they firstly
    Talk about very different topics within the group discussions, the way of questioning was very oriented on the relevances of the respecive group.
    While Kösk talkes mainly about ######: Main topics: institutions of the life course (school, exams), boyfriends and marriage, being female in Turkey, We are growing older, life becomes serious, work is hard..
    Cimens major topics are ##########
    And secondly display two very different self-perceptions (Selbstbilder) andy ways of relation to their contextes.
    As I haven't have analysed the whole group,s the findings must be evaluated as first hypotheses and I don't think the groups can be systematically compared to each other.
    But they display topics which are similar to other group discussion as well.
  • Common to many other groups which are about to graduate from vocational high school (in 2011), the topic of future and uncertainty is very prevalent in the group discussions.
    Here we see, that although they have the orientation or the wish studying a two years university, they even don‘t strive for a four years bachelor, there is no certainty that they will be actually able to study.
    The quotes implicate a quite passive relation to the topic of school, and future perceptions. They do not develop their own ideas and wishes about a department or a future job, because, as they elaborate further, due to different reasons they don‘t have any chance to realize their wishes.
    The reasons for that differ and in the quotes I chose they mention at least three of them
    Studiying at university is not taken for granted in the family or milieu of origin and it is not subject an own decision, but the decision of parents.
    Although they prepare themselves for the university entrance exam, they expect not having enough points to choose, but just attend the same department, as it doens‘nt require success in the exam. So it will be again a department, a branch they don‘t like, as they already attendet a high school they did not wish for. As they say later it was the nearest school to they home place they were able to enter. Here they refer to the very competative university exam, as the quantity of university places in Turkey is very limited and the demand very high.
    Not only studying is restricted but also the entrance to the labour market depends on requiremens, they mention torpil/ contacts which refers to clientilist structures.
    So for both, in their eyes the entrance to university and the entrance to the labour market cannot be achieved by own efforts, it is subject to exterior conditions, to financial means for tutoring/extra lessons in socalled dershanes or for and
  • But not in all life world contextes, they show such a passive behaviour. One very impressive example is linked to the topic of love relationships.
    Here, they also face restrictions because of social norms which is sanctioned by parents and brothers, which they do not accept:
    After shortly explaining their concrete strategies how to realize their orientations to live relationships they start to justify their position and their need for lying.
    And here they use very general arguments,
    They collectively don‘t link their wish for relationhips to their age and puberty but reason their behaviour very esentially with „one wants to be loved and wants to love“ and also with the need of „getting to know the person he or she wants to marry.“
    Here, inspite of restrictions they display Selbstbewusstsein. They argue for their orientations and they find strategies to act for it. What is also interesting is the role of the peergroup. By the solidarity of the girlfriends, that are able to realize their orientations.
    This is not an example for a participatory event. It is rather undergoing dominant rules of behavior and morality.
    But it shows how young people can display different sorts of self-determination and self-confidence according to the possibilites the environment provides. And surely it is also linked with motivation.
    One hypotesis of this two different constructions of agency can be that
    They reproduce the values and the role models of they milieu, which is rather starting a familiy and not starting working life, which could be the reason why they are so eager about the topic of relationships.
  • For Cimen I have not choosen the topic of future and relationship, firstly, because it is not important for them, altough one of the students is also about to graduate. Secondly for them, love relationship is not the subject they focus on. It is more the youth center, they go to.
    Striking for me were quotes, where they reflect about the impact of the youth center to their self-awareness. These experiences are always linked with a special environment. And they see the new experiences not as taken for granted, as something they can always experience. In the two quotes I have chosen, the two female participants contrast the impacts of different contextes to their agency. Here they contrast their family context with the exceptional occassion of a few days trip with the youth group in a city quite far away from Istanbul.
    In the context of the trip, where we do not really know how it was, they experience themselves as an active person with self-awareness, in an environment, which fosters knowlegde about own needs, and wich makes one able to make decisions.On the other hand, in the context of the familiy, they perceive themselves as an object, which acts upon guidlines and rules. This implicates that the environment doen‘t give you the possibility act autonomously.
    For Cimen, the access to the youth centre opens new spaces and new agenctic possibilites. They are very aware of that as one of the girl describes how life would be without the youth center. She rememberes the first day she went there: Af: (if) I haven't been going [to the youth centre] that day (.) hey look I'm very sure, I am so sure about it I would be a [girl] who would certainly sit at home, maybe go out with friends once ore twice at the weekend or once or twice a month, pretty fairly going from school to home, home to school and wouldn't know anything of life because after going to [youth center] I've learned many things (…).
    For the group, the youth center gives them new perspectives about themselves and about the world. Learning new things about society and developing a new identity respectively are main topics for Cimen.
  • Then the participant goes on and compares the nature of the youth center with the nature of school. This also shows that they see the youth center as an learning environment.
    Here they point out two different ways of relationships, and hierachy between teachers and pupils, youth workers of peers. The interactions in the youth center, which in the eyes of the two students fosters the participants to express their positions and ideas.
    It could be interpreted as an participatory environment of co-cooperation, which fosters which self-awareness and self-determination
  • Annegret Warth - Being actor or 'being pushed' ?

    1. 1. Being an actor or 'being pushed'? Agentic experiences of female high school students. Implications for youth work practice. 16th of November 2013, Sebeke Project Istanbul Annegret Warth, Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    2. 2. Background Study on all day practices in different life world contexts of youth peergroups in Istanbul between the age of 14-18 of different social backgrounds • Interest: How do peergroups display their relation to different life world contexts? What kind of restrictions they they face and how do they deal with them? How do restrictions and ways of dealing differ according to different social backgrounds? • Analysis of group discussions with Documentary Method (Bohnsack): Focus on tacit knowledge/collective orientations Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    3. 3. Subject oriented conception of participation and agency Relation between self-determination and co-cooperation (Gerhard 2007; von Schwanenflügel 2013) preconditions of participation: Self-confidence and Self-determination: ability to develop own interests and express demands, Contexts, which provide social recognition and possibilties to act self-determined. Agency as 'quality' of the engagement of actors with ... contexts-for-action“ (Biesta/Tedder 2007:136f). Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    4. 4. The two groups: Köşk and Çimen Questions to the Material: How do the peer groups relate themselves to their respective contextes? How do they commonly construct their way of agency? • 2 female peer groups, 18 years, about to become general and vocational high school graduates • Context of gender and social inequality Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    5. 5. Köşk: Uncertain future Studying at University is not a subject of own decisions… Bf: well our thoughts are only to reach university, in my head there's no dream, no profession at all right now //mhm// no profession at all and of course Cf: whatever happes Bf: I will study in our department probably, most probably, obligatory, again a dreadful department @(.)@ …but depends on the decision of parents, Cf: I want to study, in my eyes they [parents] have to let me study [okutsunlar diyorum] (.) my big brothers didn‘t study (…) they have to let me study, but well I don't know Bf: you will study @hopefully [inşallah]@ Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    6. 6. as well as on instituional regulations and own economic and social capital. … Cf: [university entrance exams] for instance you might work as hard as you can there is torpil/contacts going around in any case (...) Af: also in finding a job there is injustice Cf: └ yes (...) Bf: you have to have contacts [torpil] everywhere //mhm// contacts really contacts is very important Af: for somebody who hasn't got the financial needs it is really hard to study in the meantime //mhm// (4)
    7. 7. Köşk: Carrying through love relationships Af: for instance let‘s say we save the guy‘s name the guys name as Cf [in our cellphones] @I say mum I talk with Cf when I talk with him@ Ma: └@(.)@ Cf: If they want to go out then for instance I go to Bf and say come on lets go out [thats how] I take her out [from home] Af: └ @thats how we meet@ (...) Bf: ..of course we don't want to lie but at the end we are young and everybody wants to live, of course it's not about going too far, well we don't think about such things but well, one wants to be loved and wants to love, but your mothers @don't understand@ such such things //mhm// Cf: I mean experience is needed in any case isn't it (4) Af: well, at the end one chooses the one to marry by him/herself (…) Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    8. 8. Çimen: Exploring a new form of agency Af: you are a girl-child and you have to be at home at specific times, so you have to be at home before seven, because of that; it depends on your mind-set how far you develop yourself [kendi kafan yani ne kadar genisse o kadar gelisebiliyorsun] Bf: yes (…) it was an experience for me the trip to [A-city], there, far away from my family .. I can say that was a happy experience (...) Af: -learned to act on your own (…) well, being on your own makes you understand yourself better, without your family //mhm// you discover much better what your needs are Bf: in the end nobody tells you make this, come (back) at that time, you make decisions (…) yes //mhm// you are able to make your own decisions (3) Af: (s.o.) doesn't push you [dürtmüyor yani] Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    9. 9. Çimen: Different forms of relationships Af: (…) well actually they [schools, teachers] do not enlighten students enough //mhm// and in school teachers are always above, they alway say things like „you do what the teacher says“. After I came to [youth center] I say man, [I realise] I have quite some rights, what‘s going on in the world Bf: └yes exactly Af: … there you discover your own areas of interest Bf: └exactly Af: because it automatically forces you to think Bf: └ yes because because the one in front of you doesn't talk, he/she makes you talk, which means he/she promotes your ideas //mhm// brings out your ideas //mhm// Af: Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“ └ yes (2)
    10. 10. Summary Köşk displays different forms of agency in restrictive and nonparticipatory contexts: school and transition system (accepting) milieu/family (hidden emancipation) Experience of desintegration in school and transition context. Role of peergroup in order to realize their orientations. By the comparison of different contextes (family – school – youthcenter/trip), Çimen reflects their different implications for their agentic identity. Significance of particpatory/non-participatory contextes on the experience of agency. Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    11. 11. Conclusions for youth work practice: Development of self-consience and self-determination are precondition and result of participation Motivation for participation is linked to the personal experience of making a difference How can all-day (positive or negative) agentic experiences be adressed by youth work? Expressed limitations are hints for participation topics Co-cooperation as a fundamental prinziple of youth work Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“
    12. 12. Literature Biesta, Gert; Tedder, Michael (2007): Agency and Learning in the LifeCourse. Towards and Ecological Perspective. Studies in the Education of Adults 39, pp.132149. Knauer, Raingard; Sturzenhecker, Benedickt (2005): Partiziption im Jugendalter, in Hafeneger, Benno; Jansen, Mechthild; Niebling, Thorsten: Kinder- und Jugendpartizipation, Opladen Verlag Barbara Budrich, pp. 63-94. Gerhard, Volker (2007): Partizipation. Das Prinzip der Politik. München: CH Beck. Von Schwanenflügel, Larissa (2013): Passungsverhältnisse von Bewältigung und Partizipation im Kontext sozialer Ungleichheit, in: Ahmed, Sarina; Pohl, Axel; von Schwanenflügel, Larissa, Stauber, Barbara: Bildung und Bewältigung im Kontext sozialer Ungleichheit. Weinheim und Basel: BeltzJuventa, pp. 86-103. Social Pedagogical Research Centre „Education and Coping in the Life Course“