‘They should have stayed’: Blaming street children and disruption of the intergenerational contract

Gemma Pearson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Street-living children in Tanzania find themselves excluded from mainstream society due to the stigmatisation they receive for their social transgressions. Belcher and DeForge (2012) explain that the stigmatising and othering of homeless populations is, in part, a means of placing the blame for homelessness on the individual, absolving broader society of responsibility for the structural factors that cause inequality. Street-living children in Tanzanian society transgress social norms by appearing to live independently of their parents and wider family in a context where intergenerational reciprocity is paramount. Former research on street-living children has highlighted the importance of children and young people’s relationships with peers as sources of solace, cooperation and home-making on the street (Beazley, 2003; van Blerk, 2012). Although important, I argue that these street-based relationships are systemically different from their former relationships with their families and home communities, which are formed around informal intergenerational contracts, and cannot substitute the institutional stability offered by familial ties and association. Within the context of family breakdown, this chapter will draw on the concept of intergenerational reciprocity, street child literature and primary research to explore who is responsible for street-living children, how they are responsible and to what extent.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntersectionality and Difference in Childhood and Youth
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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