What is the Relation between School Failure, Youth Gangs and Capability Deprivation for Children of Migrants? The Case of Young People of Ecuadorian Origin in Spain

Maria Ron Balsera

Abstract

This empirical research makes use of the capability approach and the structural perspective to analyse the biographical narratives of 15 young boys and girls of Ecuadorian background in three different institutions: secondary schools, remedial vocational centres and juvenile detention centres in Spain; complementing these biographical narratives with expert interviews. The capability approach allows for a particular focus on real opportunities, as well as, personal, social and environmental conversion factors. By embracing the notion of capability deprivation, this approach enables a broader but deeper conception of inequality and discrimination which captures the diversity between and within groups, and improves our understanding of the processes in which these differences are transformed into drivers of inequality of capabilities, capability deprivation and social exclusion, exemplified by the narratives of a third of the participants  who belonged to ethnically based violent  gangs and were serving sentences in young offenders’ institutions. The findings suggest that the barriers for successful integration and adequate levels of wellbeing are manifold and stem from the migration process, institutional discrimination at the school and labour market, and the impact on migration laws, xenophobic political discourses and social attitudes.

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