» Archive for: September, 2013

downloadAn exciting week ahead of us at the International Institute of Social Studies: the 2012-2013 MA students present drafts of their research projects.

As the case in previous years, this includes lots of interesting work in the area of ‘children & youth studies’ under the broader umbrella of critical research in social policy. Below an overview of this work in progress:

Childhood Vulnerability and Livelihood Navigation: Coping Strategies of Zimbabwean Unaccompanied Minors (Zums) in South Africa‘ (Bolutife Olubukola Folasade Adefehinti, Nigeria)

Child Labour in the Agriculture Sector in Ghana. Actors and Determinants‘ (Ellis Koomson, Ghana)

I want to be Self-Sufficient. Life Trajectories and Aspirations of Young Technical and Vocational Trainees and Apprentices in Phnom Penh‘ (Lyda Chea, Cambodia)

Youth without Future: A Spanish Youth Trans-boarder Initiative Portraying Young’s People Experience of the Economic Crisis‘ (Paulina Trejo Mendez, Mexico)

Tensions, Trade-Offs and Bridging. Possibilities for Aboriginal Provincial Education in Canada‘ (Kyla Marie Hackett, Canada)

Basic Education and the Rights of the Almajiri Child: The Rhetoric of Universalism in Nigeria‘ (Ruth Eguono Okugbeni, Nigeria)

Everybody’s Child’ but ‘Nobody’s Child’: Strengthening Alternative Family and Community Based Care Options for Children Placed in Ugandan Institutions‘ (Grace Lisa Nakimbugwe, Uganda)

Orphan Youth and Youth with Unknown Lawful Lineage (Nasab) in Jordan: Constructions of Identity, Lived Experiences, and Negotiations of Agency‘ (Hind Jamal Farah Farahat, Jordan)

Poverty and Social Exclusion in Finland – Experiences of Children and Youth‘ (Susanna Julia Laire, Finland)

‘Co-responsibility within the State, Civil Society and Community on the Protection of Street Children in Maputo, Mozambique‘ (Gina Ortiz Escobar, Colombia)

Double Standards: Age, Agency and Sexwork Policy in The Netherlands: A Discourse Analysis of the Role of Age in Shaping Social Policy on Sex Work in The Netherlands‘ (Sara Vida Coumans, Netherlands)

To which Extent Have the Policies of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Since Its Establishment Been Encouraging Youth Involvement in Social Change?‘ (Rojan Nassar Rashid Ibrahim, Palestine)

The Multitasking among Socially Responsible Youth Engaged in Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLA) and Village Health Team Volunteer Service (VHT) in Northern Uganda‘ (Howard Onyok, Uganda)

Strategies Young University Graduates Adopt to Secure Employment and Earn a Living. A Case of 2009 Sociology Graduates from the University of Zimbabwe, Harare‘ (Fungai Matarise, Zimbabwe)

Denial of Primary Education: A Deprivation Unabated: The Role of Alternative Primary Education for Deprived Community. (A Case Study from Jalpaiguri District in West Bengal, India)’ (Suddhasattwa Barik, India)

The Troubling Start of the First Thousand Days of Children in Mukuru Kwa Ruben Slum: Health System Interaction with Structural and Institutional Processes of Exclusion‘ (Aurelia Muthoni Munene, Kenya)

Learning on the Margins: Educational (In) Security for Refugee Children in South Africa‘ (Innoscentia Zandile Mfeka-Ngada, South Africa)

School Dropout as a Serious Challenge to Achieve Universal Basic Education. With Special Reference to Basic Education System in Sudan‘ (Abdelrahman Adam, Sudan)


For further details about the Children and Youth Studies programme at the ISS please go HERE.


image0012The excellent New Mandala, featured an interesting post discussing a controversial Thai television series about a group of middle-class Bangkok teenagers entitled ‘Hormones’ (Hormone WaiWaWun).

The author, Pasoot Lasuka, notes that the series, which has just completed its first season, has been controversial in Thailand. He argues that this is largely due to ‘its explicit portrayals of social issues that can be found in actual Thai high school life. These issues include, for example: sexual desire among students (especially through Sprite, a female character who is portrayed as sexually open-minded); the discovery of homosexual desire (through a character called Phoo); and the challenge to the school’s authority of Win, a male character who is depicted as having a critical mind’.

As noted in earlier posts (HERE and HERE), young people’s bodies are often important sites of development governmentalities. Hence, the concern expressed by the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission about the apparent ‘inappropriate content’ of the series is not entirely surprising. On the other hand, Pasoot Lasuka notes that the series is also celebrated by, for example, a critic from Prachachat News who considers the series ‘useful for the youngsters and their parents to learn what really happens in school today.’

In his conclusion, Pasoot Lasuka raises the question whether despite all the controversy Hormones is perhaps not reinforcing conservative values more so than offering any progressive content. He bases this claim on the observation that the rebeliousness displayed by the youth in Hormones goes only so far; it doesn’t destabilise traditional conservative institutions like the family and religion. In fact, the author notes ‘the series puts a high emphasis on the importance of the family institution in helping the youngsters in the series get out troubles. For instance, when Sprite, the sexually open-minded person who likes to fool around with boys, learns that her mother is pregnant, she becomes a completely different person by staying at home and help taking care of her mother. Phoo, who becomes so confused with his gender identity, is understood by his mother and his younger brother, and can live happily at the end’.

A point that escaped the otherwise excellent analysis is the title of the series. Does the title ‘Hormones’ not effectively suggest that any of the apparently ‘rebellious behaviour’ displayed by these teenagers should not be interpreted as political, because it suggests that this is simply the result of the condition of the adolescent brain?

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Talking about Sex (on camera)

Category: youth

14 Sep 2013

downloadIn a recent article in the journal Reproductive Health Matters, Erica Nelson and Dylan Howitt, reflect on the making and use of two short documentaries about adolescent sexual health in Ecuador’s southern sierras.

The authors note that Ecuador was selected as study site for its high rates of adolescent pregnancy (100 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, vs., for example, 89 in Brazil and 66 in Mexico). In addition, where adolescent pregnancies have fallen in many other countries, it has increased in Ecuador from 14.43% of all births in 1989 to 20.34% in 2009.

Voces de Cuenca (2011) presents the voices of adolescents who were involved in a participatory ethnographic research workshop about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH). It is a short documentary (8:40 mins) produced with the aim of ‘giving young people the chance to speak directly to those responsible for designing SRH intervention strategies’.

Tres Generaciones (2012) is based on longer term (5 months) ethnographic research. This documentary is slightly longer (19:38 mins) and was produced to function as a ‘jumping-off point for discussions on cultural and generational taboos surrounding talk and advice-giving on sex and sexuality within families’, in Ecuador but also beyond! Like any ethnographic product, the point is not to be representative and the three persons around which the documentary is produced were not selected with that in mind. Nonetheless, the three cases provide beautiful insight into how attutides, knowledge and practices concerning sexual health have changed over time, and also how ‘being young’, in terms of normative constructs as well as lived experience, has changed fundamentally over the past decades.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


download‘Is it a good idea to make it a legal obligation for grown-up children to be responsible for the care of their parents?’

In most contexts, grown-up children are the main responsible for the care of their parents as they age. In his chapter in The Impact of Demographic Change in Thailand, John Knodel reports findings from the Survey of Older Persons in Thailand (2007) showing that for over 50% of the older people aged 65 and above children are the main source of income.

But why do grown-up children support their older parents, what happens if they don’t, and what is the scope for older parents to affect this intergenerational flow of resources? In his classic study on old age support in Western Kenya, John Hoddinott suggests that there is some scope for older parents to influence the support they receive from their children through ‘manipulative behaviour’ based on their most valuable resource: their land. Despite a stated norm of equal division of land between sons, Hoddinott notes that actual inheritance patterns showed in many cases some differences between sons suggesting that older parents reward their sons based on the level of support they have received (or the lack thereof).

The June 2013 edition of Youth Hong Kong issued by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups entitled ‘Growing Responsibilities’ includes various articles about the question of population ageing in Hong Kong. Despite a general optimism about the strength of moral responsibility among today’s youth towards providing care for the growing population of older people, it notes that such social norms are under threat due to changing demographics and other wider social forces. Hence, the question is raised whether care for one’s older parents should be made a legal obligation, as is already the case in China, India, and Singapore. For example, Singapore has the ‘Maintenance of Parents Act’ allowing residents aged 60 and above who are unable to subsist on their own to claim maintenance from children who are capable of providing this but don’t do so. And China has the ‘Law on Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Aged’ which includes a ‘visiting requirement and a stipulation that employers approve the necessary leave for visits’. The local government of Qufu (Confucius’ hometown) goes yet a step further by obliging all citizens to pay their parents a monthly allowance as well as pay for a monthly haircut and annual health check.

posted by Roy Huijsmans



UNICEF vacancies

Category: United Nations

3 Sep 2013

downloadHave you taken courses in Children & Youth Studies? Do you have some relevant work experience? Then, you stand a good chance joining UNICEF through their New and Emerging Talent Initiative (NETI) – a paid appointment!

Successful candidates are given an initial one year appointment that commences with a three week period at UNICEF headquarters in New York. Following this induction, the ‘NETIs’ are deployed globally. Subject to positive evaluations the initial one year appointment may be extended with one year and thereafter successful ‘NETIs’ graduate and move into so-called ‘Talent groups’.

The NETI programme appears  mostly geared towards those already ‘in’, but the last category of ‘eligible’ candidates offers hope for those not (yet) part of the world of UNICEF.

  1. UNICEF National Professional Officers and General Service staff;
  2. UNICEF staff members holding a temporary appointment;
  3. UNICEF Junior Professional Officers (JPOs) who have completed at least 15 months of the JPO Programme;
  4. External candidates from outside UNICEF.

Available positions are listed HERE.

good luck!

posted by Roy Huijsmans


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ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.