University of Cambridge > > Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars > Researching youth moralities: New sociological direction or moribund dead-end?

Researching youth moralities: New sociological direction or moribund dead-end?

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Research and pedagogy in the field of morality and moral education has been dominated by philosophical and psychological disciplines. Although sociological studies and theorising in the field has not been absent, it has been limited. Drawing on a study that investigated the lived morality of a group of young South African’s living in the aftermath of Apartheid and in the shacklands of Cape Town, this seminar surveys the historical contribution made by sociologists to the study of morality and introduces two sociological notions of importance to those researching in the area of youth moralities. These two notions are that of a ‘moral ecology’ and ‘moral capital’. Employing Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory and social ecological theory it describes the moral life as an ecology of interconnecting systems, complex antinomies, diverse codes, multiple positionings, discordant processes and competing influences, over time and on multiple levels. The second important notion, that of moral capital, draws on Bourdieu’s work on capital, and is described in two ways. The first is the way in which young people living in poverty consider how being good may be considered a form of ‘capital’, and is translated into economic capital, and which in turn allows them to do the ‘good’ things necessary for being regarded a ‘good’ person. It then asks what are the necessary elements of moral capital, that will help young people ‘be good’ and so access the economic future to which they aspire. The paper concludes by noting how employing the notion of a moral ecology helps to more precisely understand the relationship between poverty and morality, including the social reproduction of morality; and how the notion of moral capital may be useful for both researching and teaching moral education, especially among those living in resource-poor communities.

This talk is part of the Education, Equality and Development (EED) Group Seminars series.

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