Life in the city has become fundamentally uncertain — especially for young people, who are the ongoing future residents of our cities. From Jakarta to Berlin, from Hyderabad to Abidjan and Sao Paulo, young people must design their life projects under the influence of economic crisis and restructuring and cannot assume that they will escape their parents’ poverty, retain their parents’ wealth, or will be able to reproduce their parents’ cultural capital. Urbanization, the demographic growth of the city in comparison to the portion of people not living in cities, is partly the result of the movement of young people to cities to make their life and livelihood. They meet conditions that are historically unique in their precariousness and, more than ever, in flux, changing in an increasingly globalizing world. We start with the youth in face of uncertainty in the so-called Global South and Global North cities alike, and study the ways in which they create pathways to their futures, both as conscious attempts to get somewhere as well as by grabbing opportunities as they present themselves. They have to learn how to use the city, how to take risks and invest in it; and they must have some faith in the city and believe that they can do something with it. Faith, and faith-based institutions, especially religious institutions, then, come to play a particular role in our project, as we will discuss in more detail below.
Main research question and conceptual model
Our main research questions are:
- How do young people (ca. 16-25) create pathways to their futures in the cities of Jakarta, Abidjan, Hyderabad, Berlin and Sao Paulo, cities that provide historically new conditions of uncertainty?
- What is the role of faith-based institutions in the improvisations of young people to secure some sort of life and livelihood for themselves? Under what conditions, then, do faith-based practices become urban practices, working towards the future, how do they materialize as concepts and capacities to learn how to function collectively, when the terms of affiliation are not prescribed?