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Putting Children First: Session 2.1.D Marlene Ogawa - Social connectedness as an enabling condition [24-Oct-17]


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Putting Children First: Identifying solutions and taking action to tackle poverty and inequality in Africa.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23-25 October 2017

This three-day international conference aimed to engage policy makers, practitioners and researchers in identifying solutions for fighting child poverty and inequality in Africa, and in inspiring action towards change. The conference offered a platform for bridging divides across sectors, disciplines and policy, practice and research.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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Putting Children First: Session 2.1.D Marlene Ogawa - Social connectedness as an enabling condition [24-Oct-17]

  1. 1. Social connectedness: An enabling condition for addressing intergenerational poverty and supporting secure transitions to adulthood? Marlene Ogawa1, Shirley Pendlebury2 and Carmel Marock3 1Synergos South Africa, 2University of Cape Town, 3Singizi Consulting Putting children first: Identifying solutions and taking action to tackle poverty and inequality in Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23-25 October 2017 Theme: Supporting secure transitions to adulthood This work is made possible thanks to funding from the Samuel Family Foundation
  2. 2. Case study: Social Connectedness in City Year, Johannesburg  Assumption: Strengthening social connectedness helps to diminish intergenerational poverty by enabling young people to negotiate pathways to productive adulthood.  Central question - case study: How are transitional pathways of youth volunteers influenced by their participation as service leaders in City Year, Johannesburg?  Testing the assumption: How, if at all, do findings from the case support for assumption?
  3. 3. Impetus for the paper  Kim Samuel, the Samuel Family Foundation and OPHI – Social Connectedness as a Missing Dimension of Multidimensional Poverty  Social Connectedness Programme, Synergos South Africa • Research on conceptions of care and connectedness in IKS (FDC; NMCF) • ‘Proof of concept’ interventions (City Year, NACOSA, REPSSI)  Samuel and Bagwiza Uwizeyimana (2017) case study on social connectedness and young care-workers (NACOSA) and service volunteers (City Year)  The situation of youth in South Africa
  4. 4. About Synergos Synergos helps create a world that is just, peaceful and sustainable, where people everywhere are empowered, aware of their common humanity and able to realize their full potential. Lasting solutions to Poverty Leaders Institutions Partnerships Personal transformation for social change. Systemic shift
  5. 5. The Social Connectedness Programme aims to: • understand and reduce chronic isolation as a contributor to and consequence of poverty; • increase social connectedness of children and youth
  6. 6. Questions  In what ways is the Social Connectedness Programme in South Africa contributing to young people’s transitional pathways into work and other forms of livelihood?  How might an expansion and deepening of young people’s social connectedness alter the processes that fuel an intergenerational cycle of poverty and inequality?  Is social connectedness a strong enough mechanism for enabling young people to make critical life transitions in starting to work, continuing to learn and exercising citizenship?  What’s at stake in the notion of a ‘secure transition to adulthood’?
  7. 7. Outline 1. Social connectedness, social capital and resilience 2. Thinking about youth – critical transitions, demographic dividend vs ‘ticking time-bomb’, livelihood pathways and assets. 3. Case Study – Young service leaders, City Year, Johannesburg 4. Social connectedness as a mechanism for change?
  8. 8. 1. Social connectedness, social capital and resilience Chronic Social Isolation (relational deprivation) – inadequate quality and quantity of social relations with others at different levels of human interaction (individual, group, community and larger social environment). Social connectedness – meaningful relationships and bonds with peers, families and communities; may extend into wider social networks. Social connectedness –intrinsic to well- being & instrumentally valuable. Social capital Bonding capital – nurtures, and arises, from ties between people of similar backgrounds or interests. Bridging capital occurs across socially heterogeneous groups, produces a flow of resources for advancing aspirations (Yeboah, 2017). Linking capital – vertical connections with people in positions of authority or influence who may provide access to resources (Woolcock 2012) Resilience? ‘an eco-systemic transactional process’ resulting in a positive adjustment to significant adversity
  9. 9. Social connectedness as a ‘missing dimension’ of poverty See Zavaleta, Samuel & Mills, 2014; 2017. Relational deprivation is an intrinsic part of capability poverty:  ‘…people have good reason to value not being excluded from social relations, and in this sense, social exclusion may be directly a part of capability poverty’ (Sen, 2000, p. 4).  Relational deprivation can result in or worsen other deprivations.  Affiliation between people is a social basis for respect and non-humiliation (Nussbaum, 2000).  People’s sense of belonging to a group enhances their capabilities and can support their productivity.
  10. 10. 2. Thinking about youth  Five critical life transitions for youth (2007 World Development Report, Development and the Next Generation): (i) continuing to learn; (ii) starting to work; (iii) developing a healthy lifestyle; (iv)starting a family; (v) exercising citizenship.  ‘Demographic dividend or ticking time-bomb’? – This binary opposition ignores complex, fluid, lived realities and aspirations of youth.  ‘Secure transitions to adulthood?’ At least two false assumptions, but still a useful concept.  Livelihood pathways and assets (Ansell et al., 2014)
  11. 11. 3. The Case: Young service leaders, City Year  Collaboration – Social Connectedness Programme and City Year (CY), Johannesburg.  CY brings together young people (known as service leaders) for a year of voluntary service, civic engagement and leadership development. Service leaders mentor children in after-school programmes at 9 primary schools in disadvantaged communities in Gauteng.  Two strands in CY programme: (i) Service in Schools and (ii) Leadership Development for service leaders.  Service Leaders: Most are between 22 and 24 years old, from lower income households and families with very limited access to employment opportunities and social mobility. Many join City Year join to earn the small stipend, which – for a few – is the main income for their households.
  12. 12. The Case: Young service leaders, City Year, Johannesburg Collaboration: Social Connectedness Programme & City Year (CY), Johannesburg CY brings together youth volunteers (service leaders) to provide after-school support to children in nine disadvantaged primary schools in Gauteng Two strands in CY programme for service leaders (i) Service at after-school children’s clubs (ii) Leadership Development – social connectedness part of the core curriculum Characteristics of service leaders: Most 22-24 years old, from lower income families with limited access to employment opportunities. CY pays a small stipend. For a few service learners the stipend is the main source of income for their households.
  13. 13. Programme evaluation  Mixed methods: individual interviews, focus groups and survey (both baseline and, where possible, end-line), with data collection from a sample of different role players in the programme.  Evaluation criteria for the Social Connectedness Programme: Outcomes criteria: (i) cohort of practitioners has a deeper understanding and integrates social connectedness into practice; (ii) key institutions integrate knowledge of social connectedness and scale up to replicate good practice models in programmes and practice; (iii) a cadre of leaders are aware of the value of social connectedness and actively promote the work. Impact criterion: Resilience of children, youth and their caregivers is developed through social connectedness interventions. This is given expression in their performance in their different life spaces, and in their ability to access resources, services, and opportunities.
  14. 14. 3. Findings – Three themes  Employment and Employability – Livelihood Pathways  Networks and Social Capital  Accruing Assets for Critical Life Transitions
  15. 15. Employment and Employability – Livelihood Pathways  2016 survey of a sample of 2014 and 2015 cohorts: • 30% of survey respondents were employed • 12% were in a learnership/apprenticeship or internship • 20% were studying • 39% were unemployed  Findings are consistent with youth unemployment figures in RSA.  Perceptions of how CY had assisted in finding employment: “Learning about social connectedness and how to build my network has really made a big difference to my getting this job” “[CY] gave me the contacts I never had to get the job I have” “Understanding the importance of social connectedness assisted me to access the opportunity for a job”
  16. 16. Employment and employability (cont.)  An employability repertoire – Employed respondents and those who were studying further, picked out valuable attributes acquired through their CY experience. Some attributes that emerged most strongly: • discipline, positive attitude, energy, respect towards supervisors, ability to work in a team, ability to communicate, problem-solving, attendance, and curiosity.  Tenacity and hope – Two-thirds of those who were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) had applied for more than 10 jobs since completing CY. All were hopeful of their prospects – either to find jobs, or study further, or start their own businesses.  Self and others – CY graduates have moved beyond their own aspirations to see themselves as resources for others. A little over half of those surveyed had assisted friends or family to find work.
  17. 17. Networks and Social Capital  Participation in CY enables youth to extend, maintain and use their social networks. (a) “After City Year I started to make a lot friendships as I was able to talk to lot of people and network.” (b) “I engage with people of different ages and background on regular basis, so the experience has furnished the skill to socially connect with others in a good way.” (c) “I have started and learned to approach people and create meaningful networks that I hope will help me grow myself. I have started to be an outgoing person, attending ‘women seminars’ and growth events.” (d) “Before I participated in City year programme I was not able to connect with others outside my group but after my participation I managed to apply things I have learnt within organizations I participated in…” Bonding Bridging Bridging + linking potential From bonding to bridging
  18. 18. Networks and social capital (cont.) Evaluator’s comment: “Because City Year is committed to addressing the nexus of leadership, poverty, and education, there may be value in explicitly deploying the language of ‘social capital’ as the sharp end of the stick in the continuum of social connectedness. Where social connectedness offers an approach to addressing a range of personal and social challenges facing individuals and communities at a local level, social capital explicitly seeks to deal with the structural challenges facing the kinds of service leaders City Year attracts.”
  19. 19. Accruing assets for critical life transitions  Increased confidence, greater interpersonal skills and a sense of self- efficacy are important outcomes for young service leaders who volunteer at City Year – a ‘bank’ of assets for learning, work, active citizenship and service, family, healthy lifestyle.  Service leaders’ perceptions of how they have changed through their City Year experience: “I created a friendly environment with my family, in which we rely on each other’s strengths, hold each other accountable. I stopped being naïve; I now know how to treat people the way they should be treated with respect.” “I have started asking the people in the location about what is it that they understand about SASSA/grant. I share the information about the grant and all other training I have acquired. The most fundamental is patience, the power tool about jay walking – it taught me to be patient and not follow the majority”
  20. 20. Accruing assets for critical life transitions (cont.) More examples of young people’s perceptions of how CY had changed them: “Being alone, at first I was that kind of a person who would prefer to be in his own corner and wait for someone to come to me but now I can’t do that anymore, as I am the one who would sometimes go ‘out there’. […] in the beginning […] I needed to understand the people around me first, through the learning of social connectedness it has somehow changed how I see things.” “Working in a team; being a team captain; looking after the school environment; sharing a meeting; leading a roof painting team during our community service day.”
  21. 21. 4. Social connectedness as a mechanism for change?  The title for this paper suggests that social connectedness may be an enabling condition for addressing intergenerational poverty and supporting secure transitions to adulthood. Is this indeed the case? If so, how strong a mechanism is it?  We pose the questions at two levels: (i) Programmatic level: What is the efficacy of the social connectedness programme at City year in enabling youth to get work and accrue livelihood and other assets for critical transitions? (ii) A high, general level: Is social connectedness a strong enough mechanism for addressing child poverty (or to effect the kind of change needed to break the intergenerational transfer of poverty)?
  22. 22. Social connectedness as a mechanism for change? (cont.)  On the programmatic question: Social connectedness clearly serves as an important framing idea for the service leaders in the Case Study. But learning about the concept of social connectedness is not enough to bring about meaningful change, given the context of structural unemployment and persistent educational inequality.  On the higher level question: On its own, social connectedness not a strong enough mechanism for change. However, a growing body of research on youth and the intergenerational transfer of poverty suggest that social connectedness is a crucial enabling condition for kerbing this transfer. It is also a necessary condition for well-being and heathy development.
  23. 23. Acknowledgement “This paper and approach emerges as a result of work and thinking advanced by Kim Samuel in her collaboration with Oxford University's Poverty and Human Development Initiative and through her leadership as President of the Samuel Family Foundation. Kim Samuel's work advances that social isolation includes the experience of profound, sustained loneliness and lack of belonging and can create significant barriers to socio- economic individual and community well-being. Moreover, Kim Samuel has suggested that social connectedness provides people with a sense of belonging through meaningful and trusting relationships and bonds with those around them, facilitates access to supports and opportunities to achieve improvements that are desired and valued by both individuals and groups, and results in tangible assets for communities and nations.“