Thursday, September 30, 2010
Dem youts, dat cheddar and mad violence
"Poor and underemployed young men don't seem to a source of social instability", Blattman says as he takes a piss over the numerous peacebuilding NGOs around the world. Whilst my bitter nature would encourage me to argue his point, I do fully support the idea that 'just because your young and poor doesn't mean your going to go out and kill people'. That notion is essentially no different to Britain's fear of the 'hoodies'.
But I also have to defend those poor naive little NGOs as the reasoning behind the massive number of youth engagement projects are not necessarily to help improve their economic status, rather, it is to engage the youths and keep them busy......I tried to find some evidence for this but it seems that NGOs and the UN don't like to explicitly provide justifications for their projects.
So I can only really speak based on my own experiences working in South Sudan, but it seems that here, the belief is that the main drive of conflict between communities is not economics, but rather, idleness. Many people from the community, government and even the youths themselves always seem to give the same solution to conflict: "We have to keep the youths busy, when they are idle, they will more likely go out and fight or conduct criminal activities".
Anyways, I think my point is that outside of the economics world, peacebuilders and other NGO types don't think that the point of vocational training projects is to reduce poverty, thus reducing conflict, but rather as a method to change behaviour. I think its in line with all those silly sports for peace projects. Its a means of making these youths a contributing member of society and all the mentality that comes with it (if need be, I can try and draw out the sociopsychological mechanisms of this). Nonetheless, I am very much looking forward the findings of Blattman's study on the issue (though I'm very intrigued to see his design for this).
Kids will be kids, and youths will still stab you in the alley behind MacDonalds for not giving him a cigarette.
P.S. Don't get raped by the burden of proof, don't forget the lessons of epistemology and evidence is like crack.....it's great, but sometimes you can live without it (sometimes).