Learning on Streets. Youth and political socialization in informal markets in Zimbabwe

Dr Marjoke Oosterom
Profile Marjoke Oosterom
Tuesday 23 Mar 2021, 16:00 - 17:00
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Marjoke Oosterom
Dr Marjoke Oosterom

In this Development Research Seminar, researcher at the Institute of Development Studies, Marjoke Oosterom will discuss her research focusing on the theme of Learning on Streets. Youth and political socialization in informal markets in Zimbabwe.

About the research


Existing scholarship on political socialization has predominantly generated knowledge on ‘socialization mechanisms’ in Western settings; about the role of family, peers, schooling and civic associations for developing mainly civic forms of behaviour.

The proposed research will contribute to knowledge by developing a new conceptual framework for studying political socialization for contexts where the conventional models may not apply.

The research explores how networks of the informal economy function as political socialization mechanisms in Zimbabwe: does working in a market influence political ideas and behaviours? The qualitative study has a comparative design, comparing one market in Harare that is informally ‘owned’ by the ruling party with a market that is mainly run by the city council, while the ruling party has some influence. A third market, in the city of Bulawayo, is fully run by the city council. 

Impact of COVID-19 on the research

The regime used the lockdown in response to COVID-19 to crack down on the opposition. In cities, it used the opportunity of the lockdown to bulldozer some informal markets, in clean-up campaigns.

When the full lockdown started in Zimbabwe in the end of March, two rounds of the fieldwork had already been completed. The lockdown necessitated a change in research methodology, with the researchers periodically phoning young vendors between March and August to get structured updates on their situation under lockdown and on what was happening at their markets. Mobility restrictions were lifted in September so the researchers are again rethinking the methodology in order to make best use of the next three to four months for the last phase of fieldwork.

About the speaker

Marjoke Oosterom is a research fellow in the Power and Popular research cluster at IDS and online visiting research fellow at ISS. She holds a PhD from IDS and has a background in comparative politics and development studies. Her research concentrates on how experiences of violence and conflict affect forms of agency, citizenship, and everyday politics and governance.

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