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M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities  

      Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities:  Fostering  Autonomy   and  Agency  of  Palestinian  Adolescent  Refugees  through   Participatory  (Action)  Research.    

Mirthe  Sue  Biemans1         SUMMARY:     This   paper   explores   the   potential   of   participatory   methods   to   facilitate   the   development   of   autonomy   and   agency   among   youth.   Using   examples   from   a   field   study   with   Palestinian   adolescent   refugees,   where   participatory   methods   such   as   Participatory   Video   were   used   to   identify   valued   aspirations,   and   opportunities   and   constraints   to   achieve   those   aspirations.   This   paper   assumes   that   one   can   only   achieve   value   capabilities  when  one  is  aware  what  capabilities  one  values  and  what  the  opportunities   and   constraints   to   achieve   those   capabilities   are.   By   empowering   youth   to   develop   their   autonomy  and  agency,  participatory  research  can  contribute  to  the  development  of  their   capabilities.         KEYWORDS:     Participatory/creative/visual  research  methods,  PAR,  Autonomy,         Agency,  Youth,  Palestinian,  Capabilities/Aspirations.             INTRODUCTION     In   the   summer   of   2010   twenty   Palestinian   adolescents   from   the   Askar   camps   in   the   Palestinian   Territories   participated   in   a   mixed   method   research   to   identify   their   aspirations,   and   the   possibilities   and   constraints   they   experience   and   envisage   to   achieve   those   aspirations.   It   was   not   anticipated   that   during   the   research   they   would   go   to   a   profound   change.   Initially   most   of   the   participants   could   not   articulate   their   aspirations   for   the   future,   while   at   the   end   of   the   three-­‐month   period   they   showed   videos   to   their   community;   not   only   about   their   aspirations   but   also   about   what   constrains   and   enables   them   to   achieve   their   aspirations.   This   paper   describes   the   process  of  the  research  and  how  the  adolescents’  autonomy  and  agency  was  affected  by   it.       The   field   study   mapped   the   adolescents’   aspirations,   possibilities   and   constraints   and   analyzed   them   in   the   context   of   several   theories   of   wellbeing.   In   the   adolescents’   aspirations  both  their  specific  social,  political  and  cultural  situation  is  reflected  as  well   as  their  normality.  Often  people  tend  to  expect  to  meet  traumatized  depressed  teenagers  


Alumnus University of Amsterdam, Graduate School of Social Sciences: MSc. International Development Studies. King George Street 25/3, Jerusalem, Israel. Email:



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   or  young  extremists  in  the  refugee  camps  in  the  West  Bank.  However,  the  teenagers  in   the  West  Bank  seem  to  be  largely  similar  in  their  hopes  and  dreams  to  the  teenagers  in   any  other  place.       In  this  paper  the  emancipating  process  of  participatory  research  is  being  analysed,  and   its  value  for  promoting  the  achievement  of  valued  capabilities.  Particularly  in  the  light  of   the   idea   that   in   order   for   people   to   achieve   valued   capabilities   they   have   to   discover   what  they  value  and  what  opportunities  they  have  to  achieve  their  valued  capabilities.  In   the   first   section   the   literature   on   autonomy   and   agency   is   discussed.   The   second   part   presents  the  research  context  and  methodology.  The  third  part  analyses  the  effect  of  the   used  methodology  on  the  autonomy  and  agency  of  the  research  participants  in  the  field   research.         1.  AUTONOMY,  AGENCY  AND  WELLBEING.     Human  development  concerns  itself  with  the  lives  of  people,  their  wellbeing,  and  their   opportunities   to   fulfil   the   aspirations   they   value.   As   Sen   (1999)   puts   forward   with   his   Capability   Approach:   in   order   for   people   to   develop   and   enhance   their   wellbeing,   they   should  have  the  opportunities  to  develop  a  range  of  capabilities  that  they  value  and  have   reason  to  value.  To  ensure  this,  people  should  have  the  freedom  to  choose  from  a  range   of   opportunities   and   capabilities.   Freedom   creates   the   opportunity   to   achieve   those   things   that   we   value,   thus   it   enhances   our   ability   to   achieve.   Moreover,   the   process   in   which   achievement   comes   about   is   also   of   importance,   in   this   sense   freedom   concerns   autonomy  and  immunity  (Alkire  2009:  94-­‐95).       If   one   agrees   with   the   notion   that   development   comes   about   through   having   the   opportunities  to  develop  a  range  of  capabilities  that  one  values,  then  one  sees  an  active   role   for   people   in   the   enhancement   of   their   own   wellbeing.   Of   course,   it   could   be   argued   that  having  the  opportunities  to  develop  capabilities  does  not  mean  that  one  has  to  use   the   opportunities.   However,   the   assumption   is   made   that   there   is   an   aim   of   enhancement  of  wellbeing.  In  order  for  a  person  to  enhance  its  wellbeing  by  having  the   opportunities  to  develop  a  range  of  valued  capabilities  two  preconditions  must  be  met:   1)   one   is   aware   of   what   capabilities   one   values,   and   2)   one   is   aware   of   the   opportunities   to  achieve  those  valued  capabilities.  It  is  not  without  reason  that  development  relies  on   the   achievement   of   valued   capabilities   and   not   merely   on   capabilities   as   such.   Capabilities   that   are   achieved   by   coercion   or   without   interest   in   this   particular   capability   that   is   achieved,   do   not   necessarily   contribute   to   a   person’s   wellbeing.   However,  it  cannot  be  automatically  assumed  that  people  are  aware  of  the  capabilities   they   value   separately   from   those   that   are   coerced   or   conditioned.   Furthermore,   without   an   active   and   conscious   assessment   of   the   opportunities   and   constraints   in   one’s   environment   one   does   not   have   to   be   readily   aware   of   the   opportunities   to   achieve   valued  capabilities.       In  this  paper  the  argument  is  being  made  that  these  two  preconditions  can  be  developed   through   the   use   of   Participatory   Action   Research   (PAR).   Although   PAR   is   traditionally   mainly  used  for  social  and  material  community  development,  in  this  paper  the  argument   is   made   that   it   can   also   have   an   effect   on   the   dimensions   of   personal   autonomy   and   agency.  PAR  is  a  methodology  that  aims  to  collaboratively  construct  knowledge  on  the   subject   at   hand   with   local   actors,   and   subsequently   change   the   situation   for   the   better   (Trell   &   van   Hoven   2010;   Frey   &   Cross   2011;   Langhout   &   Thomas   2010).   The   local   actors  affected  by  the  research  should  be  involved  in  defining  the  problem,  gathering  the   knowledge  and  determining  solutions  or  interventions  (idem).  PAR  is  used  to  create  an   emancipating   situation   and   a   situation   in   which   not   only   the   researcher   gains   but   also  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   the  research  subjects,  furthermore  it  can  be  seen  as  acknowledging  the  subject  expertise   of  the  local  people  in  development  studies.  Positive  change,  led  by  the  local  population,   can  come  about  not  only  through  social  and  material  change  but  also  by  enabling  people   to  discover  and  exercise  their  autonomy  and  agency.       The   preconditions   for   personal   development   by   achieving   valued   capabilities   can   be   conceptualized   with   the   theoretical   concepts   of   ‘autonomy’   and   ‘agency’.   The   first   precondition   to   achieve   enhancement   of   wellbeing   in   the   capabilities   approach,   the   awareness  of  one’s  valued  capabilities,  is  strongly  influenced  by  autonomy.  The  second   precondition,   the   awareness   of   opportunities   and   constraints   to   achieve   valued   capabilities  are  influenced  by  agency.  These  concepts  are  being  elaborated  upon  in  the   following  paragraphs.       1.1  What  one  values:  Autonomy.       The   notion   that   human   development   should   be   evaluated   in   the   context   of   what   capabilities  one  values  suggests  a  subjective  evaluation  of  wellbeing.  The  assumption  in   this   approach   to   human   development   is   that   one   can   authentically   motivate   what   capabilities   one   values,   or   in   order   words   that   one   enjoys   autonomy.   Being   aware   of   what   one   values,   making   authentically   motivated   choices   between   opportunities   to   achieve  capabilities,  and  thus  self-­‐endorse  one’s  behaviour  is  in  the  literature  coined  as   ‘autonomy’   (Castillo   &   Gasper   2011,   Ryan   &   Deci   1985;   2000,   Ryan   &   Sapp   2009).   Castillo   and   Gasper   (2011)   describe   the   autonomous   individual   as   a   person   that   relies   on  its  own  judgement  and  makes  meaningful  decisions  in  life  that  cohere  with  its  own   values   and   personality.   Furthermore,   in   making   these   autonomous   choices,   a   person   should  be  self-­‐motivated  (idem:  10).       The   attribution   of   autonomy   to   wellbeing   is   supported   by   quantitative   psychological   studies   among   North-­‐American   youth.   These   studies   show   that   consciously   formed   intrinsic  values  and  the  pursuit  of  intrinsic  goals  formed  by  these  values  lead  to  a  higher   life   satisfaction   (Proctor,   Linley   &   Maltby   2009:   590).   These   studies   were   based   on   North   America,   thus   it   could   be   questioned   whether   the   merits   of   autonomy   for   wellbeing   are   confined   to   Western   cultures,   which   can   be   characterized   by   higher   levels   of   individualism   and   independence   than   in   other   cultures.   However,   autonomy   is   not   necessarily   independent   and   individualist.   Chircov   et   al   (2003:   107)   found   in   their   studies   that   autonomy   can   be   dependent   or   independent,   and   individualist   or   collectivist.  The  experience  of  autonomy  is  dependent  on  the  feeling  that  one  does  not   experience  coercion  when  making  decisions.  Nevertheless  one  can  autonomously  decide   to  let  its  decision  being  influenced  by  others  or  to  take  the  collective  needs  into  account.       In   order   to   be   able   to   make   authentically   motivated   choices   and   self-­‐endorse   one’s   behaviour,  one  needs  to  discover  what  one’s  values  are  and  what  one  wants  to  achieve   in  life.  This  requires  introspection  and  self-­‐reflection  on  one’s  aspirations  and  values.  To   enable   this   introspection   and   self-­‐reflection   the   participatory   methods   of   PAR   can   be   used.   Biggeri   and   Anich   (2009)   studied   the   set   of   capabilities   that   were   valued   by   children  by  using  participatory  methods.  They  found  that  participatory  methods  enable   a   process   of   active   self-­‐reflection   that   helps   children   to   conceptualize   their   valued   capabilities.     1.2  What  one  can  achieve:  Agency.       Castillo  and  Gasper  (2011:  10-­‐11)  see  autonomy  not  merely  as  the  internal  capacity  to   make   authentically   motivated   choices,   but   also   to   act   according   to   those   choices   and   have   access   to   entitlements,   resources   and   social   and   structural   contexts   to   act   upon  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   those  choices  and  achieve  positive  outcomes.  Thus,  in  order  to  be  able  to  achieve  valued   capabilities,   one   does   not   only   need   to   know   what   capabilities   one   values,   but   also   what   opportunities   one   has   to   achieve   those   capabilities.   Ryan   and   Sapp   (2009:   76)   state   that   ‘experiencing   opportunities   to   express   and   expand   one’s   capabilities’   is   feeling   competent   ‘to   operate   effectively   within   the   environment’.   The   importance   of   a   feeling   of   competence   to   reach   desired   goals   is   proven   (among   North-­‐American   students)   to   lead  to  a  higher  life  satisfaction  (Proctor,  Linley  &  Maltby  2009:  590).  Not  only  the  actual   opportunities   and   constraints   in   the   form   of   access   to   resources   and   entitlements   are   important   in   achieving   valued   capabilities,   but   also   the   ability   to   negotiate   one’s   opportunities   within   its   environment   (Castillo   &   Gasper   2011).   McGregor   (2009:   322)   acknowledges   that   people   differ   in   their   ability   to   effectively   negotiate   their   strategies   for   wellbeing   within   their   environment.   In   this   paper   the   competence   to   operate   effectively  in  one’s  environment  by  negotiating  strategies  to  achieve  valued  capabilities   is  being  referred  to  as  ‘agency’.       Sen  explores  the  relation  between  wellbeing  and  agency  in  the  Dewey  lectures  (1985),   his  definition  of  agency  is:  ‘what  a  person  is  free  to  do  and  achieve  in  pursue  of  whatever   goals  and  values  he  or  she  regards  as  important  (idem:  203).  What  a  person  is  free  to  do   and  achieve  is  restricted  and  promoted  by  the  resources  and  entitlements  a  person  has,   however,   it   also   relies   on   the   person’s   ability   to   negotiate   this   freedom   within   its   environment.  Basing  herself  on  the  writings  of  Sen,  Robeyns  (2005)  states  that  there  are   three   conversion   factors   which   influence   the   relation   between   having   a   good   and   achieving   beings   and   doings;   personal,   social   and   environmental   conversion   factors.   Agency   is   a   personal   conversion   factor:   individual   characteristics   and   skills   that   can   convert  a  commodity  into  a  functioning.       Castillo   and   Gasper   (2001:   11)   define   agency,   as   ‘physical,   intellectual   and   emotional   characteristics  that  influence  the  ability  to  act  purposefully  and  reach  goals’.  According   to   them   (idem:   12)   having   agency   requires   two   forms   of   internal   orientation:   1)   a   temporal   orientation   towards   the   future,   which   is   a   prerequisite   for   the   capacity   to   aspire.  When  a  future  orientation  is  expressed  it  stimulates  personal  development.  And   2)  a  causality  orientation  that  is  internal  and  based  on  autonomy,  as  opposed  to  external   based  or  control  or  impersonal.  These  orientations  require  reflexive  evaluation  and  can   be  developed  when  one  is  informed,  educated  and  experiences  choice  (idem:  10).       The   methodologies   used   during   PAR   can   contribute   to   the   control   that   people   experience  over  the  resources  that  affect  their  lives.  By  actively  participating  in  research   about  their  lives,  youth  can  gain  more  control  over  the  resources  in  their  lives  (Langhout   and  Thomas  2010:  61)  and  also  become  more  able  in  reflecting  on  their  lives  (Trell  and   van   Hoven   2010:   102).   Consequently   the   methodology   of   PAR   can   create   agency   by   enabling  youth  to  reflect  on  the  opportunities  and  constraints  in  their  lives,  to  gain  more   control   over   their   resources,   and   to   negotiate   their   strategies   for   achieving   valued   aspirations  in  their  environment.                          



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   1.3  What  one  aspires:  Dimensions  of  human   wellbeing  and  needs.       In   the   field   study   that   forms   the   context   for   this   paper   it   was   studied   what   aspirations   Palestinian   adolescent   refugees   have   in   life   and   what   constraints  and  opportunities  they  experience  and   envisage   to   achieve   their   aspirations.   Different   theories   from   different   disciplines   on   the   dimensions  of  human  wellbeing  and  human  needs   were   used   to   put   their   aspirations   in   a   theoretical   context.   Figure   1,   summarizes   these   theories   by   incorporating:   the   five   basic   human   needs   of   Maslow   (1943;   1973):   physiological,   safety,   love,   esteem   and   self-­‐actualization;   the   material,   social   and   psychological   dimensions   of   wellbeing   of   McGregor   (2009);   and   the   universal   basic   psychological  needs  of  autonomy,  competence  and   relatedness  of  Ryan  and  Sapp  (2009).       These  dimensions  of  wellbeing  and  needs  are  used   to  put  the  aspirations  of  the  Palestinian  adolescent   refugees   in   an   analytical   context.   However,   they   did   not   function   as   a   framework   for   research   activities,   as   it   was   open   for   the   adolescents   to   create   their   own   understanding   of   the   different   dimensions   of   their   aspirations.   Furthermore,   the   design   of   the   research   was   explicitly   aimed   at   giving   room   to   the   participants   to   come   with   less   or   more   types   of   aspirations   than   the   dimensions   of   wellbeing   and   needs   presented   here.   Nevertheless,   it   was   found   that   their   aspirations   encompassed   the   whole   spectrum   of   wellbeing   and   needs   as   presented   in   figure   1.   The   aspirations   as   Figure  1.  Dimensions  of  wellbeing  and   needs   identified  by  the  adolescents  are  shown  in  text  box   1.   The   universality   of   these   abstract   dimensions   was   substantiated,   although   the   aspirations   were   framed   in   the   social,   political   and   cultural   context   specific   to   these   adolescents.   There   was   no   hierarchy   of   needs   found,   as   proposed   by   Maslow   (1943:   387).   Which   is   shown   by   the   security   needs   of   the   adolescents   Text  box  1.  Aspirations     that   were   not   satisfied,   while   they     Owning  possessions/property     Material   showed   to   aspire   ‘higher’   needs   as   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   well.     Being  safe  and  free       Safety     -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   The   initial   research   question   was   Having  a  family  and  children     Love/relatedness   aimed   at   evaluating   a   hierarchy   of   Having  friends   needs  and  wellbeing  dimensions,  as   Ensuring  a  good  future  for  my  children   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   well   as   studying   to   what   extent   self-­‐   Social  (capital)   actualizing   behaviour   could   be   Serving  the  community     Helping   p eople   found   among   the   participants.   This   paper   however,   addresses   the   effect   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   Respect  and  fame       Esteem   of   participating   in   the   research   on   -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐   the   participants’   autonomy   and   To  study         Competence  and   agency  as  observed  during  the  field   To  have  a  job         autonomy   study.     To  travel     -­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐-­‐     Being  religious         Self-­‐actualization   Being  a  good  person   Creativity  and  personal  talent  





M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   2.  METHODOLOGY:  PAR  IN  A  MIXED  METHODS  STUDY     During  a  four-­‐month  field  study  in  2010,  a  mixed  method  approach  was  used  to  collect   data   the   answer   the   question:   ‘What   aspirations   in   life   do   the   Palestinian   adolescent   refugees   have,   and   what   possibilities   and   constraints   do   they   experience   and   envisage   concerning   the   fulfillment   of   their   aspirations?’   The   Palestinian   Territories   formed   a   research   context   that   affected   the   research   participants   and   the   research   practice.   The   effects  of  the  occupation  and  of  life  in  the  refugee  camps  on  the  adolescent  participants   in   the   research   were   profound.   Because   this   paper   is   concerned   with   the   effect   of   the   methodology,   and   especially   the   participatory   methods,   on   the   participants,   the   description   and   justification   of   the   research   methodology   is   extensively   elaborated   upon.       2.1  Research  context:  Askar  refugee  camps  in  the  Palestinian  Territories.     For   a   deeper   understanding   of   the �� data   presented   in   this   paper   it   is   important   to   take   the  political,  social  and  economical  situation  of  the  Palestinian  Territories  into  account.   A  recent  comprehensive  study  of  the  UNDP  shows  that  the  research  participants  live  in  a   situation   of   economic   and   political   hardship,   as   well   as   in   a   conservative   social   environment   (Mushasha   &   Dear   2010).   In   the   Palestinian   refugee   camps   48%   of   the   people   live   under   the   national   poverty   line.   Half   of   all   the   Palestinian   people   feel   an   immediate  fear  for  their  personal  safety,  and  besides  the  occupation  50%  of  the  people   feel  that  culture,  traditions,  family  and  societal  restrictions  threaten  human  rights.  As  a   result  of  the  occupation  there  is  a  very  low  level  of  trust  in  the  Palestinian  society,  78%   of  the  people  do  not  have  any  trust  in  other  people.  Furthermore,  more  than  half  of  the   people  are  afraid  to  express  non-­‐political  views  in  public.     The   research   took   place   in   two   of   the   refugee   camps   in   the   proximity   to   the   city   of   Nablus;   they   will   be   referred   to   as   the   Old   Askar   camp   and   New   Askar   camp.   The   Old   Askar   camp   is   one   of   the   camps   that   the   United   Nations   Relief   and   Works   Agency   (UNRWA   2010)   established   after   the   war   in   1948.   The   New   Askar   Camp   however,   is   not   officially  recognized  as  a  refugee  camp  by  UNRWA.  The  refugees  themselves  established   this  camp  on  adjacent  land  in  1965  as  a  result  of  overcrowding  in  the  Old  Askar  camp.   Consequently  the  Old  Askar  camp  has  UNRWA  installations  such  as  schools  and  health   care   while   the   new   camp   does   not.   However,   in   recent   years   UNRWA   established   a   primary   school   in   the   new   camp.  Another   important   difference   between   the   caps   is   that   the   camps   are   in   different   authority   areas.   The   old   camp   falls   under   the   civilian   and   security   control   of   the   Palestinian   Authority   (PA),   while   the   new   camp   falls   under   the   civilian  control  of  the  PA  and  security  control  of  Israeli  Defense  Forces,  which  results  in   a   more   precarious   safety   situation.   As   a   result   of   the   long   existence   of   the   camps,   the   camps  have  become  like  cramped  neighborhoods.  There  is  solid  housing,  connection  to   electricity,  sewage  systems,  tap  water  and  there  are  shops.  In  the  old  camp  all  the  basic   social   services   are   available   too.   The   adolescents   living   in   the   camps   are   not   all   officially   recognized  refugees;  however,  in  the  society  they  are  all  regarded  as  refugees  because   they  live  in  the  camps.  All  the  participants  have  been  born  and  raised  in  the  camps;  thus,   they  have  not  been  physically  displaced  during  their  lifetime.       Old  Askar  is  slightly  larger  (0.12  km²)  than  New  Askar  camp  (0.10  km²).  However,  the   old   camp   more   densely   populated   with   approximately   15.900   inhabitants   (UNRWA   2010)  while  a  UNRWA  official  verbally  stated  that  the  New  Askar  camp  most  likely  has   only   around   8000   inhabitants.   The   statistics   of   the   Central   Palestinian   Bureau   of   Statistics  (2009)  show  that  the  population  in  the  camps  is  mostly  young  (51%  under  the   age   of   20),   received   primary   education,   lives   with   a   relative   large   household   in   an   apartment   (64%   lives   in   a   household   with   more   than   5   members)   and   is   mostly   not  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   formally   employed   (only   27%   is   formally   employed).   UNRWA   states   that   the   major   problems   in   the   Old   Askar   camp   are   unemployment,   overcrowded   schools,   high   population   density   and   the   split   from   the   New   Askar   camp   (UNRWA   2010).   Besides   these   problems   it   is   important   to   note   that   enrollment   rates   in   elementary   school   in   the   Palestinian   Territories   is   high   and   there   is   hardly   any   illiteracy   (Mushasha   &   Dear   2010).   Previous   studies   on   resilience   of   Palestinian   youth   show   the   importance   of   education   as   a   coping   strategy   (Nguyen-­‐Gillham   et   al   2008;   Barber   1999),   which   was   also  a  dominant  theme  in  the  data  of  this  study.     The   political   situation   in   the   Palestinian   Territories   also   had   an   influence   on   the   research  practice.  Although  European  foreigners  are  generally  trusted,  in  the  Palestinian   reality  a  degree  of  suspicion  is  always  present.  Consequently,  it  took  a  longer  period  of   developing  rapport  in  order  to  create  a  sufficient  level  of  mutual  trust.  Furthermore,  the   ethical   considerations   regarding   safety   of   the   participants   and   the   researcher   needed   to   be  constantly  considered  and  re-­‐assessed.  It  was  also  considered  whether  this  research   would   have   an   effect   on   the   participants’   psychological   state   of   being,   as   they   were   challenged   to   reflect   on   their   situation   and   their   possibilities   for   the   future.   This   level   of   self-­‐reflection   can   have   a   psychological   impact   on   the   youth   involved.   Consequently,   only   personally   motivated   adolescents,   who   where   already   involved   in   projects   of   the   youth  center  took  part  in  the  participatory  phase  of  the  research  because  they  could  rely   on   future   support   of   the   center.   Adolescents   that   were   not   associated   with   the   center   were  not  asked  to  participate.       2.2  Research  participants     In   this   research   only   the   views   of   the   adolescents   are   taken   into   account.   Although   parents,   teachers   and   development   workers   were   informally   interviewed   in   the   initial   phase  of  the  research,  it  was  decided  not  to  include  them  because  they  tended  to  project   their   views   and   opinion   on   the   adolescents.   Furthermore,   some   of   the   interviewed   adults  did  not  agree  with  taking  the  adolescents’  views  as  the  dominant  indicators  in  the   research;   this   could   have   obstructed   the   research   process.   Especially   because   this   research   aimed   to   empower   the   participating   adolescents.   During   the   entire   research   period   one   interpreter   was   used.   It   was   found   that   the   use   of   one   single   interpreter   helped  in  establishing  trust  with  the  research  participants.       The   participatory   research   and   qualitative   interviews   were   held   in   the   cultural   youth   center   ‘Safeer’   in   the   new   Askar   camp.   The   participants   in   these   parts   of   the   research   were  all  residents  of  the  New  Askar  camp.  The  participants  were  recruited  through  the   center   and   were   already   active   in   other   activities   of   the   center.   They   joined   the   focus   groups  out  of  their  own  motivation.  Consequently,  the  participants  in  the  focus  groups   were  pro-­‐active  young  people,  which  most  likely  creates  a  bias  in  the  research  findings,   especially   for   the   girls,   as   there   are   also   many   girls   that   mainly   stay   inside   the   house   after   school   hours.   The   participants   were   between   13   and   16   years   old.   Most   of   the   girls   were  13  while  most  of  the  boys  were  15.       The  respondents  to  the  survey  were  from  both  the  New  and  the  Old  Askar  camps.  They   were  8th  and  9th  graders  in  school.  The  surveys  were  filled  in  on  paper  during  class  in  the   four   different   schools   in   the   camps.   The   sample   was   not   random;   one   class   per   school   was  asked  to  fill  out  the  survey.  The  total  population  of  children  from  12  to  16  years  old   in  the  Askar  camps  was  estimated  by  a  UNRWA  employee  at  650  children.  The  sample   consisted   of   110   valid   respondents   that   were   on   average   13.6   years   old.   Among   the   respondents  there  was  a  slight  overrepresentation  of  boys  (54,5%)  and  of  residents  in   the  New  Askar  refugee  camp  (56,4%).      



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   2.3  Participatory  methods  in  research  with  youth     Different   methods   were   used   for   this   research.   Participatory   Action   Research   was   supplemented   with   quantitative   survey   methods   and   qualitative   semi-­‐structured   interview   methods.   Due   to   the   subjective   and   explorative   nature   of   the   research   question,  a  mixed  method  approach  was  considered  most  appropriate.  In  a  research  like   this   one,   which   is   dominantly   participatory   and   based   on   regular   meetings   with   the   same   participants   over   an   extended   period   of   time,   there   is   no   objective   independent   researcher   and   in   the   research   process   the   participants   were   influenced   by   the   research   itself.    Thus  the  highest  aim  of  this  research  was  to  come  to  an  informed  understanding.       It   was   acknowledged   that   in   the   Palestinian   Territories,   knowledge   is   influenced   by   power  structures,  mainly  because  all  the  knowledge  on  those  affected  by  the  conflict  is   in  the  interest  or  against  the  interests  of  the  major  political  actors.  Furthermore,  in  the   Palestinian   culture,   like   in   most   cultures,   adolescents’   opinions   are   not   often   heard,   also   not   when   it   involves   their   own   future.   This   strengthened   the   idea   that   this   research   should  be  concerned  with  having  the  adolescents’  view  on  their  lives  and  future  heard;   to   facilitate   this,   a   film   project   was   included   to   enable   the   participants   to   show   their   views   to   the   community.   Moreover,   by   using   participatory   methods,   the   participants   were  challenged  to  articulate  their  aspirations  and  thus  stimulated  to  think  about  their   own  lives  and  what  they  are  able  to  do  with  their  lives.     The   participatory   methods   were   based   on   methods   used   for   Participatory   Action   Research  (PAR)  (Chambers  2007).    The  idea  that  those  affected  by  the  research  should   be   engaged   in   every   stage   of   the   research   was   followed   as   much   as   possible.   Although   the  topic  of  the  research  was  established  before  departure  to  the  field,  the  participants   participated   in   the   problem   formulation,   in   informing   the   topics   of   the   survey,   data   gathering   and   in   the   presentation   of   the   data   in   the   form   of   film   to   the   community.   Unfortunately   time   constraints   made   that   the   findings   could   not   be   evaluated   sufficiently  with  the  participants.       PAR  has  its  limitations  (Mosse  1994),  which  were  taken  into  account.  In  this  study  the   following   limitations   of   PAR   were   taken   into   account:   the   participants   were   not   representative   for   the   entire   youth   population   in   the   camps;   the   influence   of   social   relationships  on  research  process;  and  that  certain  groups  or  kinds  of  knowledges  could   be  favored  or  excluded.  Especially  a  situation  of  social  conformism  and  the  exclusion  of   different   kinds   of  knowledge  would  endanger  the  objective  of   this   research.  It  was   tried   to   overcome   these   limitations   as   much   as   possible.   In   the   focus   group   meetings   there   were   different   methods   used   to   do   justice   to   different   kinds   of   knowledge   and   people.   The   domination   of   certain   participants   over   others   and   the   social   conformism   of   the   responses   in   the   focus   groups   could   not   be   totally   conquered,   as   these   effects   can   be   especially   prevalent   among   teenagers.   Nevertheless,   through   the   use   of   -­‐   sometimes   anonymous   -­‐   individual   work   next   to   group   work   the   effects   of   dominance   and   social   conformism   were   moderated   as   much   as   possible.   Lastly,   to   overcome   the   problem   of   the   representation   this   research   was   set   up   as   a   mixed   method   research   in   which   the   focus  group  findings  were  tested  with  a  written  survey  among  a  bigger  sample.         Different   studies   acknowledge   the   power   of   participatory   methods   in   research   with   youth.   Data   collected   in   a   participatory   manner   by   youth   regarding   their   lives   can   be   more  reliable  and  interesting  (Grover  2004;  Nieuwenhuys  1997).  For  PAR  with  youth  it   is   important   that   they   do   not   only   obtain   a   voice   in   the   research   but   also   in   wider   settings  (Nieuwenhuys  1997).  Moreover,  when  it  is  acknowledged  that  youth  are  social   actors,  are  able  to  express  their  views  and  have  aspirations,  values  and  agency  (Biggeri   &   Anich   2009:   74)   than   they   should   be   viewed   by   researchers   as   collaborative   agents   of  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   change.   Participation   in   the   whole   research   process   can   affirm   youth   that   they   are   competent  social  actors  (Crivello,  Camfield  &  Woodhead  2009:  52;  Langhout  &  Thomas   2010:   61).   Important   for   the   research   is   the   idea   that   to   enable   young   research   participants  to  have  a  voice  in  wider  settings  than  in  the  research,  they  should  be  given   the  cognitive  tools  to  give  meaning  to  their  lives  worlds  (Nieuwenhuys  1997).       Studies   showed   that   using   visual   methods,   where   the   participants   are   able   to   create   their   own   images,   teaches   them   new   skills,   improves   their   self-­‐esteem   and   confirms   them  in  their  agency  (Trell  &  van  Hoven  2010:  93;  Kellet  et  al  2004).  This  is  why  a  big   part   of   this   research   focused   on   visual   techniques.   With   the   use   of   visual   methods   the   idea  that  there  is  a  ‘correct’  answer  plays  less  of  a  role.  In  addition,  the  participants  tend   to   be   busier   with   the   process   of   generating   an   image   than   with   the   researcher   (Woodhead  &  Faulkner  2000;  Young  &  Barret  2001).  Filming  and  taking  photo’s  can  be   an  empowering  experience  because  the  participants  are  in  charge  of  the  process  (Trell  &   van  Hoven  2010:  96)  and  the  power  relation  between  adult-­‐researcher  and  adolescent-­‐ participant   is   less   of   influence.   However,   when   using   visual   methods   it   is   important   to   realize   that   for   visual   images   to   become   reliable   data   the   images   themselves   are   not   sufficient,  their  interpretation  and  explanation  in  addition  to  the  knowledge  of  what  is   not  portrayed  is  essential  information  (Young  &  Barret  2001).       For   the   research   to   allow   for   the   participants   voices   to   be   heard,   and   to   develop   their   autonomy   and   agency,   it   was   experienced   that   having   a   researcher   that   is   an   outsider   can   be   an   advantage.   An   outsider   role   gives,   on   the   one   hand,   an   excuse   to   ask   for   explanation  about  virtually  everything  without  offending  anyone.  On  the  other  hand,  the   participants’  perception  of  the  researcher  as  being  outside  of  social  roles  and  norms  can   make  them  feel  safe  enough  to  be  open  about  their  values  and  views,  even  if  they  differ   from  the  dominant  societal  norms  and  values.       2.4  Mixed  methods     This   research   pas   not   purely   participatory   but   consisted   of   mixed   methods:   participatory   focus   group   meetings,   quantitative   surveys,   participatory   video   project   and   in-­‐depth   interviews.   All   these   methods   have   their   advantages   and   disadvantages   concerning  representation,  emancipation  and  types  of  data  and  knowledge  acquired.  It   was  chosen  to  mix  these  different  methods  in  this  order  to  be  able  to  engage  research   participants   in   the   problem   formulation,   research   design   and   knowledge   gathering   (focus   group   phase),   to   test   the   gathered   knowledge   on   a   wider   sample   and   perform   statistical   analysis   (quantitative   survey),   enable   participants   to   articulate   their   views   within   the   wider   community   (participatory   video   project),   and   to   fill   gaps   in   the   knowledge  on  the  part  of  the  researcher  with  in-­‐dept  individual  interviews.       Mixed  methods  are  often  advocated  because  of  the  assumed  validation  of  the  findings  of   one  type  of  data  with  the  findings  of  the  other  type  of  data.  In  the  case  of  this  research   the   different   methods   were   more   enriching   than   validating   as   the   different   data   challenged  the  researcher  to  inquire  one  type  of  data  with  the  understanding  acquired   from   other   data.   In   most   instances   they   could   complement   each   other   and   provide   different  angles  and  insights.  However,  they  were  hardly  validating  each  other  because   of   the   differences   between   the   methods   and   the   influence   of   the   research   on   the   research   participants.   By   using   participatory   methods   the   participants   get   involved   in   the  research  process;  they  do  not  only  influence  the  results,  they  also  influence  the  topic   and   the   methods.   Hence,   participatory   data   can   hardly   be   considered   similar   and   comparable  to  interview  and  survey  data.  To  be  able  to  acquire  similar  and  comparable   data   the   research   should   be   more   predetermined   and   standardized.   However,   this  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   would   interfere   with   the   core   of   participatory   (action)   research,   namely   that   the   participant  should  be  an  active  agent  in  the  entire  research  process.       2.5  Methodology     The   field   research   consisted   of   four   phases;   focus   groups,   questionnaire,   semi-­‐ structured   interviews   and   the   film   project.   The   research   started   with   informal   interviews  with  development  workers,  teachers,  parents  and  adolescents  to  get  a  deeper   understanding   of   the   local   environment   and   find   an   appropriate   place   to   conduct   the   focus   group   meetings.   After   contacts   with   a   youth   center   were   established   ten   focus   group   meetings   took   place   with   a   small   group   of   local   adolescents   to   establish   what   their  aspirations  for  the  future  were  and  what  constraints  and  possibilities  they  faced.       The   lists   of   aspirations,   possibilities   and   constraints   created   during   the   focus   groups   formed  the  basis  for  a  written  survey  conducted  in  four  schools  in  the  camps.  In  addition   semi-­‐structured   interviews   were   conducted   with   the   focus   group   participants   and   other   adolescents   to   deepen   the   understanding   of   the   meaning   of   the   aspirations,   possibilities   and   constraints.   Last,   eight   participants   of   the   focus   groups   made   personal   videos   about   one  of  their  aspirations.       Phase   1:   Participatory   methods:   focus   groups:   The   focus   groups   meetings   provided   information   on   the   lives   of   the   adolescents   and   their   aspirations,   possibilities   and   constraints   and   the   meaning   they   give   to   them.   The   methods   used   were   drawing,   writing,   ranking   with   cards,   making   timelines   and   photographing.   Several   of   the   methods  can  be  seen  in  Figure  2.       The  use  of  visual  research  methods  with  adolescents  had  distinct  advantages.  A  practical   advantage  of  these  methods  is  that  they  were  experienced  as  being  more  fun  and  thus   the  participants  were  less  easily  bored  during  the  research.  On  the  other  hand,  the  visual   methods,   and   the   explanations   provided   by   the   participants   gave   provided   more   information.  Furthermore,  all  participants  engaged  actively  in  the  visual  methods.      

Figure   2.   Participatory   research   methods.   Top   from   left   to   right:   girls   taking   pictures;   boys   overseeing   the   translation   work   of   the   translator   after   a   focus   group   meeting;   one   of   the   pictures:   mural   ‘freedom  Palestine’.  Bottom  left  to  right:  drawing  of  ‘what  does  your   life   look   like   in   20   years   from   now’;   timeline   of   future   life;   list   with   possibilities   and   constraints  per  aspiration.      



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities     As  a  result  of  the  meetings  the  participants  started  to  think  more  about  their  lives  and   what   they   aspire   to   do;   they   clearly   developed   a   reflective   way   of   thinking   about   themselves  and  some  even  started  to  act  upon  their  aspirations  for  the  future.  The  data   from   the   focus   groups   formed   the   basis   of   the   survey   and   instigated   the   in-­‐depth   interviews  in  which  the  meaning  of  various  themes  was  further  explored.       Phase   2:   Quantitative   methods:   survey   research:   To   counterbalance   the   non-­‐ representativeness   of   the   focus   groups   there   were   also   written   questionnaires   administered   in   the   8th   and   9th   grade   in   the   four   schools   in   the   camps.   The   surveys   were   developed   according   to   the   topics   raised   by   the   participants   in   the   focus   groups.   The   survey  included  open  questions,  rank-­‐order  questions  and  likert-­‐scale  questions  about   aspirations  in  life,  and  opportunities  and  constraints  to  reach  those  aspirations.  A  total   of   140   surveys   were   filled   in,   of   which   110   surveys   were   used   for   analysis.   Since   the   surveys  were  not  administered  to  a  random  sample,  the  results  of  this  survey  can  give   an  impression  of  the  population  but  are  not  representative  of  the  entire  population.  In   this  paper  the  emphasis  lies  on  the  qualitative  data  and  not  on  the  quantitative  survey   data.       Phase  3.  Participatory  Action:  Film  project:  Due  to  the  idea  that  the  research  should  give   the   research   participants   a   voice,   also   in   wider   settings,   a   participatory   video   project   was   included.   Film   can   quite   easily   be   shown   to   others,   whereas   more   mainstream   research   techniques   do   not   always   lend   themselves   for   display   in   wider   settings.   During   the  film  project  the  participants  learned  how  to  articulate  and  frame  their  ideas.       Eight   adolescents   (4   boys   and   4   girls)   who   participated   in   the   focus   groups   also   participated   in   the   film   project.   During   the   project   they   made   short   personal   videos   about   one   of   their   aspirations   in   life,   how   they   could   achieve   this   and   what   the   constraints   were   for   them.   They   wrote   a   short   autobiographic   story   that   formed   the   narration  of  the  films.  Subsequently,  they  learned  to  translate  their  stories  into  images   by  drawing  a  storyboard  and  they  learned  to  use  the  filming  equipment,  which  consisted   of   small   one-­‐button   digital   cameras,   tripods   and   an   external   microphone.   After   the   material   was   shot   and   the   stories   were   recorded,   the   film   was   edited   for   them.   The   participants  could  approve  or  disapprove  of  parts  of  the  editing  and  shoot  extra  material   or   suggest   changes   during   several   meetings.   Once   the   short   films   were   finished,   a   screening   was   organized   for   which   the   participants   invited   around   30   friends   and   acquaintances.  Unfortunately,  they  decided  not  to  invite  their  parents,  although  most  of   the  participants  had  a  family  member  present.  It  could  be  that  they  did  not  invite  their   parents  due  to  the  criticism  that  some  of  them  expressed  towards  their  parents  in  their   movies.  Still  they  were  very  proud  to  show  the  movie  to  others  and  to  have  the  movie   themselves.  Of  the  adults  present,  most  of  them  were  impressed  that  the  teenagers  had   made   the   movies   themselves,   and   they   were   surprised   about   the   well-­‐articulated   aspirations   of   the   teenagers.   Consequently,   the   participatory   video   project   was   empowering   because   that   the   participants   reflected   on   their   own   lives   and   what   they   are  able  to  do  with  it,  and  it  enabled  them  to  let  their  views  be  heard  in  the  community.                      



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities  

Figure  3.  Film  project.  Participants  in  the  film  project  discovering  how  the  camera  works,   making  scenes  and  filming.  

  Not  only  did  the  participatory  video  project  empower  the  participants,  they  also  made  it   possible   to   make   the   data   visible   together   with   the   photography   used   in   the   focus   groups.   However,   visual   data   has   its   advantages   and   disadvantages.   The   advantage   of   using  visual  data  with  adolescents  is  that  they  all  felt  empowered  by  the  camera;  images   connect   to   their   lived   worlds.   Many   of   the   quiet   participants   in   the   focus   groups   revived   during  the  visual  assignments.  Their  images  provided  a  good  context  to  address  topics   and  questions  that  would  not  readily  come  appear  in  other  focus  group  assignments  or   interviews.  However,  additional  qualitative  data  is  needed  to  understand  the  meaning  of   the  images.  Furthermore,  visual  data  is  restricted  to  the  visual.  Topics  that  are  not  easily   captured  visually  will  not  emerge  when  using  these  methods.       Phase  4.  Qualitative:  In-­depth  interviews:  The  research  was  concluded  by  conducting  12   semi-­‐structured   in-­‐depth   interviews   to   investigate   those   topics   that   were   not   sufficiently  clear  from  the  other  research  methods  and  to  investigate  the  meaning  that   the  adolescents  ascribed  to  the  different  topics.  Eight  interviewees  were  the  adolescents   that   participated   in   the   film   project   that   participated   in   the   entire   research   for   three   months.  Two  other  interviewees  did  not  take  part  in  the  film  project  but  did  participate   in  the  focus  group  meeting,  so  they  were  aware  what  the  research  was  about  and  they   had   previously   thought   about   the   topics.   The   two   last   interviewees   did   not   partake   in   one  of  the  previous  research  methods  at  all.  It  proved  that  these  last  two  interviewees   did   not   have   enough   trust   for   a   fruitful   interview.   Furthermore,   they   did   not   show   a   similar  level  of  self-­‐reflection  as  the  other  interviewees,  which  caused  the  interviews  to   lack   additional   information.   This   also   confirmed   that   participating   in   the   research   had   an   impact   on   the   participants   concerning   their   level   of   self-­‐reflection   on   the   topic   of   future  aspirations  as  well  as  their  ability  to  articulate  those  aspirations.       The  data  was  analyzed  in  two  different  stages.  First  of  all  the  data  from  the  focus  group   meetings   was   analyzed   in   the   field   to   prompt   the   questionnaire   and   the   interviews.   This   analysis  was  done  without  the  use  of  scientific  computer  software.  The  second  stage  of   analysis   took   place   after   returning   from   the   field.   For   this   final   analysis   the   software   Atlas.ti   was   used   to   code   and   analyze   the   participatory   and   qualitative   data,   while   the   statistical   software   SPSS   was   used   to   analyze   the   quantitative   data.   Unfortunately,   there   was  not  enough  time  to  evaluate  the  research  findings  with  the  participants  in  the  field.   In  this  paper  the  focus  lies  on  the  participatory  and  qualitative  data.         3.  AUTONOMY  AND  AGENCY  AMONG  PALESTINIAN  ADOLESCERNT  RESEARCH   PARTICIPANTS     Text   box   2   shows   examples   of   aspirations   of   two   of   the   research   participants   that   participated   in   the   focus   groups   and   participatory   video   project.   Throughout   the   research   period   they   articulated   their   aspirations   and   how   they   can   achieve   these   aspirations  within  their  environment.  Their  aspirations  to  become  a  photographer  and  a   journalist  are  rare  in  the  Palestinian  refugee  community.  However,  they  are  aware  of  the  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   constraints   and   opportunities   they   have   to   achieve   these   aspirations   within   their   environment.   Mohammed   resolves   his   lack   of   money   to   study   photography   by   learning   how   to   fix   cameras   so   he   can   still   work   with   cameras,   and   Janine   resolves   between   the   social  expectations  of  women  and  an  aspiration   to  have  a  career  by  being  very  devout  so  people   can  not  say  she  is  a  bad  Muslim.     Figure  4.  Aspiration  –  Movie  still.    (Boy,  15)     Not   all   participants   and   respondents   showed   this   degree   of   autonomy   and   agency,   or   even  the  ability  to  articulate  their  valued  aspirations  in  this  way.  In  this  part  of  the  paper   the   observations   on   youth   as   knowledge   producers,   and   autonomy   and   agency   among   the  research  participants  are  discussed.     Text  box  2.  Adolescents  negotiate  their  aspirations  within  their  environment   “I  want  to  become  a  photographer.  I  already  sometimes  make  photos.  I  like  this  job  since  I  was   little  and  I  understand  this  job.”  “I  am  poor,  so  I  cannot  buy  a  camera.  I  have  to  be  rich  to  start   photographing.  If  you  are  poor  you  don’t  have  any  money  to  buy  a  camera  and  to  study   photography.“  “…when  the  camera  is  broken  I  will  be  able  to  fix  it.  “  (Mohammed,  15).   Mohammed   is   15   years   old,   he   was   always   shy   until   we   started   to   make   pictures   with   the   focus  group;  he  came  back  with  pictures  that  showed  talent.  Then  he  told  that  in  the  past  he   went  to  every  activity  of  the  youth  center  where  he  could  make  pictures  because  his  dream  is   to  become  a  photographer.  Unfortunately  he  does  not  think  that  his  family  has  the  money  to   let   him   study   photography.   However,   now   his   plan   is   that   he   will   learn   how   to   fix   broken   cameras  so  he  can  still  work  with  cameras.     “Now  they  [my  family]  know  that  I  am  going  to  become  a  journalist,  but  they  don’t  know  yet   that  I  am  planning  to  set  up  my  own  news  channel.  But  if  that  will  happen  and  I  become  a   journalist  they  will  be  convinced  of  the  idea  to  open  a  channel.  And  my  parents  know  that  if  it  is   for  your  future  you  should  do  it.”  (Janine,  13).     Janine   is   13   years   old.   Throughout   the   different   meetings   it   becomes   clear   that   she   is   very   ambitious;   she   aspires   to   set   up   her   own   news   television   channel.   Furthermore,   she   is   very   religious   and   shows   much   care   for   the   community.   She   does   not   only   want   to   have   a   successful   career   for   herself   but   she   also   wants   to   help   the   Palestinian   community   to   become   free   by   providing   truthful   information   through   her   television   channel.   She   hopes   that   the   people  will  accept  that  a  girl  will  have  such  a  career.  That  is  also  one  of  the  reasons  why  she  is   very   devout,   because   when   she   follows   the   rules   of   Islam   she   knows   that   what   she   does   is   good  and  people  will  not  convince  her  to  do  something  else.    

  Youth  as  knowledge  producers:  ability  to  articulate  valued  aspirations   3.1     After   the   first   focus   group   meeting   it   was   feared   that   the   open   and   participatory   approach   might   not   be   appropriate   for   young   adolescents   to   investigate   their   future   aspirations.  Although  the  participants  could  talk  easily  about  their  present  lives,  in  the   initial   phase   of   the   research   they   had   difficulty   speaking   about   future   aspirations.   Frequently   participants   responded   during   the   first   focus   group   meetings   with:   ‘I   don’t   know’,  or  ‘there  is  no  reason,  it  is  what  is  normal’  (Haneen,  13  &  Achmed,  16).  However,   after  several  creative  and  associative  assignments  the  participants  became  more  aware   and  articulate  of  their  valued  aspirations.       Also   in   response   to   the   open   questions   in   the   survey   the   majority   of   the   respondents   also  did  not  give  any  valuable  answers  concerning  their  aspirations  and  motivation  for    


M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   those   aspirations.   The   effect   of   participation   in   the   research   on   the   ability   of   the   participants  to  articulate  valued  aspirations  also  became  clear  in  the  interview  stage  of   the   research.   Of   the   twelve   interviewed   adolescents,   ten   also   took   part   in   the   focus   groups  and/or  the  film  project.  Only  two  of  the  interviewees  were  adolescents  that  did   not  previously  participate  in  the  research.  They  proved  to  be  poorer  informants,  which   could   have   been   a   result   of   a   lower   level   of   trust   between   the   interviewees   and   the   interviewer,   but   they   also   showed   less   reflection   on   their   aspirations,   opportunities   and   constraints.   This   resulted,   for   these   two   interviewees,   in   information   that   did   not   provide   a   deeper   understanding   than   the   focus   groups   already   had   done.   For   the   remaining   ten   interviewees   the   interviews   provided   a   deeper   understanding   of   the   focus   group   data.   These   experiences   indicate   the   importance   of   (participatory)   research   activities   to   facilitate   and   stimulate   self-­‐reflection   and   articulation   of   valued   capabilities   among  research  participants  of  this  age  group.       The  videos  that  were  made  by  the  eight  teenagers  showing  one  of  their  most  important   aspirations   demonstrated   that   many   of   them   have   an   idealistic   notion   of   what   they   aspired  to  do.  Almost  all  of  these  videos  pointed  towards  the  development  of  their  own   talents.   Three   of   the   girls   wanted   to   teach   and   train   talented   children   in   the   future   in   dancing,   music   and   languages   to   help   these   children   to   live   up   to   their   talents.   The   fourth  girl  had  the  aspiration  to  establish  the  first  independent  Palestinian  news  channel   to  create  a  Palestinian  free  press  and  bring  people  the  truth.  The  boys  wanted  to  become   a  photographer,  a  police  officer  to  establish  a  peaceful  and  safer  Palestine,  a  doctor  and  a   paramedic  to  help  people  in  emergencies  and  serve  the  community.  All  these  aspirations   seem   to   be   no   more   than   children’s   dreams   at   first   sight.   However,   the   interviews   showed   that   they   were   all   aware   of   the   limitations   they   faced   and   almost   all   of   them   were  active,  or  became  active  during  the  research,  in  creating  the  possibilities  to  achieve   their  ambitions.  During  the  research  their  introspection  made  them  more  aware  of  what   it  is  that  they  wanted  and  what  possibilities  and  constraints  they  faced  in  reality.  As  said   before,  it  should  be  kept  in  mind  that  these  eight   teenagers  are  not  representative  for  all   Palestinian  teenagers,  as  they  are  the  ones  that  are  always  active  in  the  activities  of  the   youth   center   and   this   indicates   that   they   are   more   active   than   average   teenagers   to   broaden  their  horizon  and  develop  themselves.       The   videos   show   the   ability   that   adolescents   can   have   to   articulate   their   valued   capabilities   and   strategies   to   achieve   them.   Using   participatory   methodology   over   an   extended  time  seemed  to  increase  the  ability  of  the  adolescents  to  articulate  their  valued   capabilities.       3.2  Autonomy:  authentically  motivated  choices     It   should   be   taken   into   account   that   is   hardly   possible   to   establish   to   what   extent   adolescents   are   autonomous   in   their   opinions   and   to   what   extent   they   are   externally   influenced.   Especially   because   the   research   was   not   initially   designed   to   establish   degrees  of  autonomy.  However,  most  important  for  the  experience  of  autonomy  is  that   one  at  least  does  not  feel  coerced.       While   some   teenagers   showed   a   great   degree   of   autonomous   decision-­‐making,   apart   form   their   parents   and   societal   values,   others   seem   to   be   influenced   largely   by   their   parents  and  society.  Janine  (13)  explains:  “I  will  do  whatever  I  want.  If  it  is  the  right  thing,   not   wrong   things.   But   if   somebody   comes   to   me   and   says   that   I   shouldn’t   do   it   because   it   is   not   right   or   true,   I   will   say:   ‘no   I   will   do   it’.”   She   expressed   ability   for   autonomous   decision   making   based   on   her   own   values.   On   the   other   hand,   Dhalia   (13)   shows   the   struggle  between  making  her  own  decisions  and  following  the  pressure  of  her  family  or   environment:  “I  am  thinking  to  take  of  the  Hijab  (headscarf)  …  I  am  thinking  about  taking  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   it   of   because   my   parents   pressured   me   to   wear   it   and   I   want   to   make   my   own   decision   about   it.”   In   the   open   survey   questions   the   influence   of   parents   and   environment   was   one  of  the  main  motivations  for  wanting  to   achieve   certain   aspirations,   for   example   a   fourteen   year   old   boy   responded:   “to   achieve  my  future  by  becoming  a  policeman,   which   is   my   and   my   parents  goal.”  However,   Figure  5.  Parental  influence,  movie  still.   the  participants  in  the  participatory  phases   showed  greater  autonomy  over  time.       One  of  the  biggest  constraints  for  the  participants’  autonomy  is  the  social  pressure  they   experience.  In  the  community  of  the  Palestinian  adolescents  receiving  and  giving  respect   is   very   important.   The   participants   felt   that   one   of   their   biggest   constraints   was   that   people   gossip   when   one   does   not   follow   the   traditional   way   of   life.   This   ‘social   pressure’   to   follow   norms   is   mostly   damaging   because   “respect   is   very   important   …   so   gossip   is   a   big  obstacle”  (Ezra,  13).  The  obstacle  of  being  disrespected  and  social  pressure  are  thus   interrelated  and  have  a  profound  influence,  as  one  of  the  other  girls  explains:  “I  will  be   afraid  to  do  something  because  of  the  people.  I  wouldn’t  do  things  because  people  would   talk  about  it.”  (Rana,  13).  As,  for  example,  Janine  explains  about  the  reactions  girls  can   face  when  they  go  to  university:     “Some  bad  people  in  the  community  and  the  gossip.  You  will  have  someone   that  is  not  educated  and  he  will  see  a  girl  going  to  university  and  he  will   say   that   her   place   is   in   her   husbands   house   so   she   should   not   go   to   university.”  (Janine,  13)     Although,   as   stated   by   Chirkov   et   al   (2003),   an   autonomous   decision   can   also   be   influenced   by   your   environment,   when   someone   experiences   coercion   the   decision   is   not   autonomous   anymore.   Consequently,   the   social   pressure   to   follow   traditional   norms   impedes  on  the  autonomy  of  the  participants.       Even   though   social   pressure   influences   the   aspirations   that   participants   and   respondents  have  there  were  also  clear  tendencies  to  break  free  from  societal  traditions.   Although   none   of   the   interviewees’   mothers   worked,   all   the   girls   expressed   an   aspiration  to  work,  at  least  part-­‐time,  even  when  they  would  have  children.  According  to   a  Palestinian  researcher  (interview)2  this  is  a  recent  trend  among  the  young  generation   in   conservative   areas   mainly   caused   by   exposure   to   working   women   on   television.   Television  is  -­‐  as  was  also  found  be  Nguyen-­‐Gillham  et  al  (2008)  -­‐  the  major  source  of   entertainment,   especially   for   girls.   On   television   the   modern   woman   is   situated   in   an   office  with  a  career;  this  is  the  world  that  many  of  the  young  girls  want  to  join  in  on.       The   aspirations   to   study   and   to   have   a   job   were   most   common   in   the   qualitative   data;   the   focus   group   participants   were   mostly   very   passionate   about   the   subjects   they   wanted  to  study  and  their  aspired  jobs.  The  adolescents  saw  these  as  enabling  them  to   develop   their   personal   talents.   However,   ‘having   a   job’   was   also   seen   as   a   means   to   generate  income  to  finance  other  aspirations  and  needs  in  life.  Hence,  there  is  a  clear  in   intrinsic   as   well   as   an   instrumental   value   in   them.   Although   most   of   the   teenagers   aspired   traditionally   valued   jobs   (doctor,   teacher   and   lawyer),   most   of   them   could   authentically   motivate   why   they   wanted   this   particular   job,   which   shows   self-­‐ endorsement:  “The  most  important  goal  that  I  want  to  achieve  is  to  become  a  successful  



Personal  communication.


M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   teacher   in   the   future   and   to   be   their   [the   students]   role   model   and   to   be   well-­educated.”   (Rasha,  14)       Some  aspirations  expressed  in  the  qualitative  data  were  hard  to  fit  in  other  categories,   but   they   involve   a   wish   to   develop   personal   talents   and   creativity.   Creativity   and   the   pursuit  of  specific  personal  passions  and  talents  are  not  absent  among  the  teenagers.  A   desire   to   improve   in   playing   music,   dancing,   art   or   other   forms   of   creativity   was   mentioned   several   times   as   an   important   aspiration.   The   aspiration   to   develop   personal   talent   was   also   present   in   a   desire   for   learning   and   understanding   that   goes   beyond   studying  for  a  certificate.  Honesty,  creativity  and  thinking  about  the  meaning  of  life  were   valued  highly  by  the  participants.  Which  shows  that  the  participants  have  authentically   motivated  values  that  influence  their  decisions.       Although   the   use   of   participatory   methods   over   an   extended   time   stimulated   the   participants’  autonomy,  the  environment  in  which  the  participants  live  plays  a  big  role.   Although   aspirations   in   life   are   of   course   always   influenced   by   one’s   environment,   to   experience  autonomy  it  is  important  that  one  does  not  feel  coerced.         3.4  Agency:  negotiation  within  the  environment     The   participants   in   the   research   showed   a   very   strong   orientation   towards   the   future   and   their   personal   development.   The   possibilities   that   the   participants   identified   to   achieve   valued   aspirations   (text   box   3)   show   a   strong   internal   causality   orientation   as   they   see   their   opportunities   mainly   in   their   own   actions.   Thus   it   seems   that   these   adolescents   see   their   own   agency   as   the   main   driver   for   their   personal   development.   Text   box   3   lists   the   possibilities   and   constraints   for   achieving   aspirations   as   identified   by   the   participants   in   the   focus   groups,   the   average   importance   were   attributed   with   five-­‐point   likert-­‐scale   survey   questions.   Also   the   movie   stills   (figure   6)   show   the   constraints   that   the   participants   experience   and   envisage.   The   data   indicated   that   besides  the  direct  and  indirect  constraints  of  the  occupation,  social  norms  and  pressure   constitute   the   major   constraints   for   these   adolescents.   Concerning   possibilities,   on   the   other   hand,   the   adolescents   are   largely   agency   oriented,   and   it   seems   that   they   try   to   overcome   institutional   constraints   with   their   personal   efforts   and   characteristics.   However,   their   agency   is   constrained   by   the   social   pressure,   which   limits   their   autonomy   and   freedom.   It   seems   that   the   adolescents   rely   on   their   agency,   because   formal  institutions   -­‐  besides  the  educational  institutions  -­‐  are  not  sufficiently  available   to  meet  their  needs.     Text  box  3.  Average  importance  of  possibilities  and  constraints  to  achieve  aspirations.                                  


Possibilities       Being  respected  or  respectful   Being  honest       Praying  and  going  to  mosque   Study  hard       Work  hard       To  be  a  socially  valued  person   Having  good  friends     Having  a  house       Having  a  job       Doing  community  work     Having  money       Being  married       Getting  help  from  people    

  4.73   4.60   4.60   4.58   4.40   4.27   4.26   4.25   4.02   4.00   3.56     3.15     3.11  

  Constraints   The  occupation         Being  disrespectful  or  disrespected   Being  uneducated       Being  a  liar         Having  bad  friends       Social  pressure/gossip       Cronyism         Not  being  a  socially  valued  person   Being  poor         Being  unemployed       Not  doing  community  work     Cultural  traditions       Playing  and  having  fun      

4.39   4.09   4.03   3.98   3.92   3.78   3.65   3.54   3.49   3.46   3.12   2.39   2.18  




M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities     Many   aspirations   and   possibilities   to   achieve   aspirations   overlap.   Sen   (1999:   35-­‐53)   pays   attention   to   the   idea   that   dimension   of   wellbeing   can   have   intrinsic   as   well   as   instrumental   value.   The   data   of   this   research   substantiates   this   idea,   as   it   shows   that   many  of  the  aspirations  and  possibilities  and  constraints  overlap  with  each  other.  This   can   be   a   result   of   the   intrinsic   and   instrumental   values   that   aspirations   can   have.   For   example,   having   friends   can   have   an   intrinsic   value   for   the   wellbeing   of   a   person,   as   a   part   of   the   person’s   love   needs   and   is   thus   an   end.   Having   friends   can   also   have   an   instrumental   value   through   the   social   capital   it   generates.   Having   bad   friends   on   the   other  hand  could  hence  form  an  obstacle.    

    Figure  6.  Constraints  on  the  adolescents’  aspirations  –  Movie  stills.    From  left  to  right,  top   to  bottom:  occupation,  personal  abilities,  lack  of  job  opportunities,  and  poverty.    

  All   the   possibilities   and   constraints   experienced   and   envisaged   by   the   research   participants   were   investigated   more   thoroughly   in   the   focus   groups   and   later   in   the   participatory   video.   As   an   example,   the   value   of   studying   as   a   possibility   and   the   constraint   of   being   uneducated   will   be   discussed   here.   Education   is   one   of   the   sectors   that  are  very  well  developed  in  the  West  Bank.  Achieving  education  is  a  strategy  that  can   help   the   adolescents   to   achieve   a   better   future,   because   many   higher   educated   Palestinians   move   to   the   city,   get   jobs   at   (international)   companies,   or   go   abroad.   Furthermore,   higher   education   is   relatively   accessible   for   people   from   a   lower   socio-­‐ economic   background   in   the   Palestinian   Territories.   In   the   photography   assignments   where  the  teenagers  were  asked  to  take  pictures  of  things   that   are   important   to   them   for   their   future   life,   many   of   them   came   back   with   pictures   of   certificates   (Figure   7),   which  indicate  the  importance  of  studying  to  them.  In  the   focus   group   discussions   they   indicated   that   studying   had   an  intrinsic  value  in  itself,  as  well  as  that  it  is  a  possibility   for   getting   a   job,   owning   material   possessions,   getting   respect   and   friends.     As   the   movie   stills   also   show,   the   participants   saw   working   hard   and   studying   hard   as   Figure  7.  Stying  as   possibility.    (Girl,  13)   important  to  achieve  their  capabilities.    



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   Study   and   work   can   in   their   own   ways   contribute   to   the   ability   to   effectively   attain   outcomes  within  one’s  environment  and  opportunities  to  develop  one’s  capabilities,  and   the   self-­‐endorsement   of   this   behavior.   The   research   participants   felt   that   if   they   will   not   have   enough   knowledge   they   will   not   be   able   to   succeed   in   life,   because   without   a   certificate   it   will   be   difficult   to   get   a   job.   Some   girls   also   indicated   that   studying   will   protect  them  and  give  them  power,  as  one  of  the  girls  puts  it:  “Because  learning  ensures  a   good  future  ...  Learning  is  a  weapon.”  (Girl,  13).  In  response  to  the  question  of  whether   they   thought   that   their   life   was   going   to   be   different   from   their   parents’   life,   the   possibility   ‘to   study’   often   had   a   prominent   role.   They   would   either   complete   their   studies,  which  (one  of)  their  parents  did  not  or  they  perceived  their  education  as  being   better   than   that   of   their   parents.   If   these   adolescents   go   to   higher   education   they   will   most   likely   have   received   better   education   than   their   parents,   since   only   3%   of   the   population   of   Old   Askar   camp   (10   years   and   older)   has   finished   any   form   of   higher   education   (PCBS   2009:   60).   Many   students   aspired   to   obtain   a   foreign   scholarship   to   study   abroad.   This   quote   from   Dhalia   (13)   is   an   example:   “Everything   here   in   Palestine   is   limited,  nothing  is  perfect.  Everything  over  here  is  yes  or  no.  Maybe  in  France  I  will  have   the   opportunity   to   do   things   differently”   and   “It   is   difficult   for   me   to   get   high   grades   in   school   and   I   need   them   if   I   want   to   go   and   study   medicine   in   France.   The   college   in   France   requires   a   high   grade”   shows   that   she   is   aware   what   is   required   to   achieve   her   aspiration.      


  Figure  8.  Studying  as  a  possibility  to  achieve  aspirations  -­  Movie  stills.    

  Another   example   of   the   awareness   of   opportunities   and   constraints   to   achieve   valued   capabilities   is   the   constraint   of   social   pressure   and   the   possibility   of   being   respected.   As   mentioned   before,   the   constraint   of   not   receiving   respect   as   a   result   of   not   following   social  norms  impedes  on  the  autonomous  decision  making  capacity  of  the  adolescents.   Furthermore   it   constrains   them   in   achieving   their   aspirations   within   their   environment.   Hence,   it   is   not   surprising   that   ‘being   respected’   received   the   highest   average   importance  as  a  possibility  in  the  survey.  Although  the  more  value-­‐oriented  possibilities   of   ‘being   honest’,   ‘being   respectful’   and   ‘praying   and   going   to   mosque’   do   not   seem   to   be   functional   possibilities   to   achieve   aspirations   at   first   sight.   Partly   these   compromise   a   way   of   moral   life.   Nevertheless,   these   values   can   help   the   adolescents   to   negotiate   the   social   pressure   they   experience   to   follow   social   norms.   For   example,   as   the   following   quote   shows:   “When   I   am   practicing   Islam   everybody   respects   me”   (Fadi,   15),   the  



M.  S.  Biemans  –  Empowered  to  Achieve  Valued  Capabilities   possibility   of   ‘going   to   mosque   and   pray’   can   contribute   to   getting   respect,   especially   for   boys  for  whom  religion  is  more  of  a  community  activity.     These   examples   show   that   the   adolescents   are   aware   of   their   opportunities   and   constraints;   during   the   research   it   was   observed   that   they   became   more   aware   of   the   opportunities   and   started   seeing   strategies   to   achieve   wellbeing   in   their   environment.   Unfortunately  there  were  no  informative  responses  to  the  open  questions  in  the  survey   on  the  topic  of  opportunities  and  strategies  to  achieve  wellbeing.  Thus  the  participants   and  respondents  cannot  be  compared.         CONCLUSION       In   this   paper   it   is   shown   what   effect   a   participatory   research   project   can   have   on   the   ability   for   adolescents   to   achieve   their   valued   capabilities.   Participating   in   a   research   that  utilizes  participatory  methods  and  consists  of  a  series  of  meetings,  can  attribute  to   the   two   preconditions   for   human   development   through   the   achievement   of   valued   capabilities;   namely   that:   1)   one   is   aware   what   capabilities   one   values,   and   2)   one   is   aware  of  the  opportunities  to  achieve  those  valued  capabilities.  During  the  field  study  it   was   observed   that   adolescents   that   took   part   in   the   participatory   phases   were,   over   time,   more   able   to   articulate   their   valued   capabilities.   Moreover,   they   became   more   aware   of   their   values   and   aspirations,   and   could   consequently   authentically   motivate   their   valued   capabilities.   The   process   of   self-­‐reflection   and   introspection   also   enabled   them   to   become   more   aware   of   the   strategies   they   can   use   to   achieve   their   wellbeing;   with   taking   the   constraints   and   opportunities   that   they   experience   and   envisage   in   their   environment  into  account.       Certainly,   part   of   the   adolescent   participants   in   this   study   feel   the   need   and   have   the   potential  to  be  taken  more  seriously.  They  feel  constrained  not  only  by  the  political  and   economical   reality   they   live   in,   but   also   by   the   social   reality   that   manifests   itself   in   strict   social  norms  which  are  enforced  through  gossip  and  the  value  of  being  respected  in  the   community.   This   is   not   to   deny   in   any   way   that   a   solution   to   the   conflict   is   very   important  to  improving  their  lives.  However,  when  the  aim  of  development  practice  is  to   increase   the   wellbeing   and   possibilities   for   human   fulfillment   for   these   adolescents,   a   difference  could  be  made  by  providing  them  with  a  space  where  they  can  be  coached  to   listen   to   their   selves   and   what   they   feel   is   important   in   life;   and   negotiate   this   within   their  community.       In   this   paper   it   is   aimed   to   show   the   possibilities   of   using   participatory   research   to   advance   the   opportunities   that   people   have   to   achieve   valued   capabilities;   not   by   providing   additional   resources   or   freedoms,   but   by   facilitating   the   discovery   and   development   of   one’s   autonomy   and   agency.   By   facilitating   a   process   of   developing   autonomy   and   agency   led   by   the   participants,   participatory   research   becomes   Participatory   Action   Research.   The   ‘Action’   is   in   the   cognitive   change   of   the   participants,   in  their  feeling  of  empowerment,  which  can  help  them  to  become  active  agents  in  their   development.       Although   results   of   this   study   cannot   be   generalized   to   the   extent   that   they   apply   uniformly   to   other   cases   of   adolescents   in   conflict   areas,   they   do   have   implications   for   theory   and   future   research.   Most   importantly,   the   results   imply   that   adolescents   in   an   unsafe  environment  should  not  be  reduced  to  victims  of  conflict.  They  can  have  a  broad   spectrum   of   aspirations   and   develop   resilience   and   agency   to   negotiate   within   their   environments   to   work   towards   achieving   their   aspirations.   Most   importantly,  



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