Development Issues

Critical Thinking about the World’s Development

Youth Politics and Intergenerational Relations

Youth Politics and Intergenerational Relations

A Youth Network Seeking for Development and Empowerment in Recife



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A Research Paper presented by:

Rui Mesquita Cordeiro

Brazil –


In Partial Fulfilment of the Requirements for Obtaining the Degree of:

Master of Arts in Development Studies



Politics of Alternative Development (PAD)


 Members of the Examining Committee:

Dr. Kees Biekart (Supervisor)

Dr. Linda Herrera (Second Reader)


The Hague, The Netherlands

17 November 2006

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Since the 1950s, development researchers and practitioners have been focusing on understanding ways to overcome poverty. During this process, many actors and issues have been identified as crucial for development, such as the women and the environment. Youth comes along such process, mostly as a perceived issue (youth development), but also as social actors (the role of youth to achieve development). This paper adds a contribution to literature and policies analysing intergenerational power relations between youth-led actors and non-youth-led actors in society. The case in point is the Network of Solidary Resistance (herein mentioned simply as RRS), a youth-led network based in one of the most unequal cities of Brazil, Recife. Its political agenda towards society is contrasted with the society’s agenda towards the youth, exposing some traces of discrimination from society towards the youth, as well as some tiredness and resistance from the youth towards its external society. The central question behind this research has to do with the level of influence of organised segments of youth in society. Such influence is revealed to be higher within the communities the youth in case work with and for, rather than within macro structures of power in society, where the root-causes of the communities’ problems are reported to come from. In addition, this research brings attention to the differences between youth policy and youth politics and the need for more agency based approaches toward the youth, beyond the typical needs and rights based approaches. The empirical data is constantly contrasted with clusters of knowledge within the literature, specifically in Political Science and Sociology. The main theories used here fit within youth and society, and power and development literatures. The main arguments to study the quality of intergenerational relationships as a mean for achieving development is due to [a] the fact that youth is the only character that crosscut the whole society and change of “category” (the youngsters of today will soon become the adults of tomorrow), and [b] the phenomenon of poverty and inequality in Latin America is persisting during many generations already, from parents to offspring, creating an intergenerational poverty circles that must be broken in order to stop poverty and recover development. In the last chapter, the paper also stresses the need of further research referring to the paradoxical locus of intergenerational and agency based approaches for long-term sustainable development.

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17 November, 2006 - Posted by | Development, Youth

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