Street Youth Labor as an Expression of Survival and Self-Worth: Voices from Youth in Guatemala City

This paper explores the ways in which employment/ labor are situated within the daily lives of Guatemalan street youth. The youth interviewed primarily engaged in informal money-making activities. These activities not only demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and resilience of street-involved young people, but their need to undertake any number of often undesirable tasks to survive. Findings from this study suggest that such work can provide street youth with greater self-confidence and self-esteem – reshaping their identities as “productive citizens.” However, such work, primarily due to its very public nature, can also re-marginalize young people as “unworthy” and “non-citizens.”

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Critical Social Work