‘We are labeled as gang members, even though we are not’: belonging, aspirations and social mobility in Cartagena

Marzi, S. (2018) ‘We are labeled as gang members, even though we are not’: belonging, aspirations and social mobility in Cartagena. Development Studies Research, 5(1), pp. 15-25. (doi: 10.1080/21665095.2018.1466720)

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This paper explores how belonging and aspirations interact to shape marginalized young Colombians’ strategies for upward social mobility. Recent literature has argued that in the context of inequality and poverty, social mobility is constrained by people’s inability to aspire to and/or achieve their aspirations. The majority of this literature is from the economics field and looks at the way poverty acts as a brake on social mobility. This paper provides an additional interdisciplinary analysis of the role of ‘belonging’ (to places and social class) in influencing aspirations of young Colombians. Findings are based on ethnographic fieldwork with young people from two marginalized neighborhoods in Cartagena. It is argued that aspirations are closely linked to belonging and the extent to which young people feel integral to or distanced from their localities. Using a Bourdieusian perspective, the paper examines how belonging is developed and how it influences behavior, orientations and future prospects. This approach generates insights into young people’s apparent low aspirations beyond the explanation of internal behavioral poverty traps. In so doing, it provides a more comprehensive understanding of how societal structures limit aspiration development and achievement.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The author is grateful to the University of East Anglia, Social Science Faculty, which financed this research.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marzi, Dr Sonja
Authors: Marzi, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Development Studies Research
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):2166-5095
Published Online:23 April 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Author
First Published:First published in Development Studies Research 5(1): 15-25
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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