Between the city and the hills: educated youth rethinking the value of education and migration in north India
AffiliationResource Management and Geography
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Andrew Deuchar
This thesis examines how young men in north India grappled with the challenges of being educated yet unemployed. It draws on ten months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand to show the distinct ways that mobile youth sought to produce social, economic and cultural capital. When they completed their degrees, many participants migrated from villages and a small township in the Uttarakhand hills, to a regional city to prepare for employment and to find work. These young men endured prolonged unemployment. Yet despite not finding secure jobs, some of these young men drew on their skills and competencies to create work in the private education sector. Other migrants sought to stand out by performing “rural” identities in urban settings, and “urban” identities in rural ones to consolidate their status. Another set of educated youth chose not to migrate but were trying to configure ways of being productive in rural spaces. Some of these young men “hung out” at a computer shop and developed ways of cultivating “good reputations,” others were attempting to create positive social change in villages by volunteering alongside NGOs and by tutoring young children. By drawing theories of social reproduction into conversation with debates about migration and mobility, this research advances understandings of youth, education and migration in the Global South. I argue that educated young men were attempting to leverage their credentials to realise status and respect without compromising their social affiliations and ties. In a context of widespread unemployment and migration, this in an important strategy for leaving open the possibility of rural and urban futures. The research also shows how young men engaged with derogatory constructions of the Uttarakhand hills. While attending to the significant ways that rural areas have been transformed, I argue that educated youth both invoked and challenged these representations in ways that sometimes consolidated their status.
KeywordsYouth; Education; Unemployment; Migration; Work; Global South; India
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