Young People’s Marginal Livelihoods and Social Transitions in Urban Brazil: Tale of Four Lives
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In this chapter, the contextualized narratives of four boys coming of age in a street environment in urban Brazil will be analyzed, and the socio-spatial dynamics shaping their livelihood paths from vending on the city buses and begging in early childhood to minding cars and assaulting in young adulthood will be explored. The analysis reveals how the livelihood choices alter throughout their street careers – influenced by past encounters, present situation, and future aspirations – all tightly connected to numerous spatial, temporal, and relational processes. In this sense, the data shows how livelihood trajectories emerge in the intersection between individual experiences and attitudes and wider social, cultural, and economic contexts. Recent debates on young people, livelihoods, and conventional models of youth transitions are discussed against the backdrop of three key perspectives from the empirical material: the significance of social networks in earning livelihoods, the negotiations of risk and blurred moralities in involvement in illegal livelihoods, and the occurrence of vital transitions throughout the life course. The study indicates how social transitions for marginalised youth are rarely unidirectional, but instead fluid and dynamic processes underpinned by structural constraints within which their lives unfold. Although young people’s livelihoods are marked by and are responses to inequality and marginality, they are part and parcel of the wider urban environment, as they draw on great spatial mobility and broad socioeconomic networks.