Storying the past, navigating the present, imagining the future: Being and becoming young social activists in Aotearoa New Zealand

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dc.contributor.advisor Mutch, Carol
dc.contributor.advisor Marlowe, Jay
dc.contributor.author Perreau, Maria
dc.date.accessioned 2021-01-06T01:42:30Z
dc.date.available 2021-01-06T01:42:30Z
dc.date.issued 2020 en
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/2292/54072
dc.description.abstract Young people are not often recognised for the contributions that they make to society and young activists are often represented as trouble makers. As a teacher I have worked with many amazing young people who felt compelled to challenge the injustices of the world they are inheriting. These young people are our future. We need to know and understand how they made their journey, who has supported them, and in what ways we can enable more young people to do the same. There is urgency to this work as dominant neoliberal policies and practices have resulted in unprecedented inequality and climate change around the world. In this thesis, I address these issues through examining the lived experiences of young people who take social action for social justice in the communities of Aotearoa New Zealand. My constructivist grounded theory approach draws attention to contextual perspectives on youth agency and the ways in which young activists are simultaneously constructing identities and performing agency. It is the first study in Aotearoa New Zealand to do so through examining young activists self-understandings. Data were iteratively gathered and analysed from thirteen participants through in-depth interviews and a focus group discussion with eight of the participants. The study found that the young activists made their way through their lives addressing the issues that are most problematic to them, carrying what I am calling their kete (basket) of knowledge and experiences that enabled them to navigate towards social justice horizons. This kete included stories of the past, navigating the present and having a vision for the future. The study found that the formal education system did not play a major role in nurturing the young social activists’ identities and agency; rather, the young people created opportunities for themselves and others to be involved in educative projects which were dynamic and responsive to the contexts in which they arose. The conceptual and theoretical framework underpinning this research is developed through several Freirean concepts, including conscientisation, praxis and critical hope. It argues that the young people’s educative projects facilitate the dual processes of constructing identities in resistance and performing radically transformative citizenship. These educative projects are largely youth-led and take place both within and outside of formal education spaces. At their core, the educative projects embody critical reflection and action in order to transform particular aspects of the young people’s communities and society as a whole. This thesis argues that these educative projects embody the process of critical consciousness and provide vital sources of critical hope for young people whose lived experiences in the twenty-first century contain many reasons for despair. It presents an alternative and authentically youth-led approach to civic engagement education which nurtures and celebrates youth agency instead of vilifying and constraining it. Through educative projects, young people empower themselves and seek to empower others. By paying attention to youth-led educative projects, educators, youth workers and policy makers can learn to be allies in democratisation rather than upholders of structural injustices which further marginalise the young people they purport to engage and educate. This thesis concludes with an urgent call for the radically democratic practices of youth activists to be embraced by all who work in youth spaces.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA99265331298302091 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/
dc.title Storying the past, navigating the present, imagining the future: Being and becoming young social activists in Aotearoa New Zealand
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Education
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.date.updated 2021-01-05T19:35:38Z
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en


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