The state of youth: Social Dynamics

Research Report. Centre for Poverty Employment and Growth, Human Sciences Research Council

Potgieter-Gqubule and Ngcobo examine five aspects of the context in which the current generation of young people find themselves: · Material well-being, including access to basic services, poverty and unemployment, education and health
· Socialisation of young people, focusing on the family, schools and places of religion · Youth culture and identity · Participation of young people in society, including elections, community and social organisations, social networking and sport · Safety and security, including issues of youth and crime, as both victims and perpetrators. A review of these areas shows major changes in society, as South Africa deracialises, urbanises and the position of women changes. Young people have been remarkably adaptable in embracing change, but concerns remain regarding their material well-being and their safety and security. Despite opportunities being created for many young people, the education system still marginalises too many others, and new generations of low-skilled workers continue to be added to the labour force. Another worrying factor is the exposure to and participation of young people in violent crime. Other dimensions of social cohesion – the family, religion, sport and civil society – face major challenges, but there are important signs of hope, including a public commitment to support families and the importance attached to participation, caring and voluntarism.