Resilience or tolerance? Contextualising youth resilience under economic and political adversity

The paper seeks to examine resilience using the experiences of young people in selected sites in Zimbabwe. It is based on the fact that the concept is slowly creeping into the governance realm breaching its traditional natural science spaces and policy makers now make reference it. There is now increased interest in peace and conflictresilience, transitional justice and resilience, gender based violence and resilience1. However, this paper argues that youth resilience should be context-specific and responses to a plethora of factors that operate within each locality. There are overarching factors that can be identified across the study locations that determine mutually or exclusively the way people respond to externalities including the political repression, surveillance, access to justice, resource endowment in each locality (or lack of the same), economic distribution and cultures of accountability by public duty bearers. These factors intrinsically link with youth participation in democratic governance processes, their innovation in the economic sphere and ultimately, their resilience in Zimbabwe. In view of this dynamic and complexity, we recommend pragmatism and argue that, when defining, understanding and fostering youth resilience, this needs to be viewed from the view point of the youth, the utility of theirsocio-economic networks, youth agency and the various processes that hinder or facilitate the deployment of that agency on a practical basis. This will be a departure from the usual theoretical framing of “resilience” and promote asking the practical questions over resilience.

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