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A social negotiation of hope: male West African youth, ‘waithood’ and the pursuit of social becoming through football

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posted on 20.02.2017 by Christian Ungruhe, James Esson
This paper examines the present-day perception among boys and young men in West Africa that migration through football offers a way to achieve social standing and improve one’s life chances. More specifically, we use the case of aspirant young Ghanaian footballers as a lens to qualify recent conceptualizations of African youth, such as ‘waithood’, which have a tendency to overlook the multifarious attempts and visions of young people on the continent to overcome social immobility. Drawing on various and long-term ethnographic fieldwork among footballers in urban southern Ghana between 2010 and 2016, we argue that young people’s efforts to make it abroad and ‘become a somebody’ through football is not merely an individual fantasy; it is rather a social negotiation of hope. It is this collective practice among a large cohort of young males – realistic or not – which qualifies conceptualizations of youth transitions such as ‘waithood’. By this, we highlight how examining the contemporary fusion of sport with a desire to migrate furthers our understandings of social mobility for West African youth, and extends literature on the strategies used by young people in the region as they try to bypass the structural barriers blocking their path to ‘becoming a somebody’.

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Boyhood Studies

Volume

10

Issue

1

Pages

22-43

Citation

UNGRUHE, C. and ESSON, J., 2017. A social negotiation of hope: male West African youth, ‘waithood’ and the pursuit of social becoming through football. Boyhood Studies, 10(1), pp. 22-43.

Publisher

Berghahn Journals

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Acceptance date

01/02/2017

Publication date

2017-03-01

Notes

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

ISSN

2375-9240

Language

en

Licence

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