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Surviving through movement: the mobility of urban youth in Ghana

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In Africa, young people are engaging with a globalised world of flows and movements but are coming of age in environments characterised by uncertainty, economic hardship and unemployment. Drawing upon research conducted in Madina, a suburb of Accra, a social navigation perspective is adopted to explore young people's everyday mobility and their aspirations for future mobility. By drawing attention to the meanings young people ascribe to movement, and by analysing their movements as tactics of social navigation, the importance of spatial mobility to young people's everyday well-being and their processes of social becoming are illustrated. Young people find that their mobility is bounded by a range of factors including labour market characteristics, gender and generational relations, and their spatial location on the outskirts of the city and the margins of the world. However, neither their daily mobility nor their spatial imagination is restricted to Madina; real or imagined travel takes them to other parts of the city, into rural areas and across the nation's borders. Through illustrating how significant mobility can be for everyday survival, this paper contributes to 'the mobility turn' in the social sciences which has overlooked the importance of mobility for livelihoods in the global South.
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Keywords: Accra; Ghana; mobility; movement; urban; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Geology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 01 November 2009

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