Unemployment in transition to adulthood
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This research focuses on the question how (un)employment influences trajectories towards adulthood among young people in South Africa, Gauteng. Using the capability approach of Amartya Sen (2004), different means, capabilities and conversion factors are investigated, with ‘being an adult’ as the main functioning to be achieved. Adulthood is thereby considered as a subjective notion, which contains both individual as relational notions (Thomson et al., 2004). Social bonding and bridging capital are investigated as main social conversion factors in the search for employment and adulthood. Secondary data is used from three researches about youth unemployment done by the CSDA. Furthermore primary data is gathered using open ended, one-to-one interviews with young people in the age of 23-30 years old in the area of Gauteng. A main finding is that young people in South Africa see adulthood mainly as being independent, being responsible towards oneself and others, and being embedded in different relations, namely with their family, partner, and friends. To achieve this, employment is confirmed as being a necessary capability. Thereby different conversion factors, such as mindset and locality, makes it difficult to put necessary means into the opportunity of employment. Furthermore as well bonding as bridging social capital are important in the search for employment. Young people who cannot find a job due to constraining opportunities, are likely to search for adulthood in other fields, namely the domestic field. The trajectory towards adulthood for young people in South Africa is therefore diffused and characterized by different forms of interdependency rather than increasing independency.