The construction and protection of individual and collective identities by street children and youth in Indonesia

Beazley, Harriot (2003) The construction and protection of individual and collective identities by street children and youth in Indonesia. Children, Youth and Environments, 13 1 (Spring): .

Author Beazley, Harriot
Title The construction and protection of individual and collective identities by street children and youth in Indonesia
Journal name Children, Youth and Environments   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1546-2250
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Article (original research)
Volume 13
Issue 1 (Spring)
Total pages 22
Place of publication Boulder, CO., U.S.A.
Publisher University of Colorado
Language eng
Subject 2002 Cultural Studies
Abstract Indonesia has a proliferation of children living on the streets of its larger cities. In the eyes of the state and dominant society, these children are seen to be committing a social violation, as their very presence contradicts state ideological discourse on family values and ideas about public order. Such an offence justifies the ‘cleaning up’ of children from the streets, arrests, imprisonment and, in some extreme cases, torture and extermination. As a response to their marginalisation and subordination, street children in Yogyakarta, Central Java, have developed a ‘repertoire of strategies’ in order to survive. These include the appropriation of urban niches within the city, in which they are able to earn money, feel safe and find enjoyment. These spaces have become territories in which identities are constructed, and where alternative communities are formed, and where street kids have created collective solutions for the dilemmas they confront in their everyday lives. This paper is a social analysis of the street boys’ social world which exists within these marginal spaces. Using Visano’s (1990) concept of a street child’s life as a ‘career’, I examine the socialisation into the street child subculture: the Tikyan. By employing Turner’s (1985,1994) ‘self-categorization’ theory, I discuss how a street boy’s individual identity construction and performance entails a continual interaction with the Tikyan collective identity. Further, by drawing on the work of subcultural theorists, I reflect on how the Tikyan have developed their own code of street ethics, values and hierarchies, as a reaction to, and a subversion of, their imposed exclusion. I show how the Tikyan actively reject their ‘victim’ or ‘deviant’ label, and ‘decorate’ street life so that it becomes agreeable in their eyes. Instead of complaining about their lives (which is considered bad form), they reinforce the things that they feel are good about living on the street. Always, they are attempting to look for proof that street life is better than conventional life. Problems are often glossed over and treated with humour and a light-hearted disregard, and the children create a doctrine for themselves that it is ‘great in the street’; a cod-philosophy which is constructed to make life more tolerable. Over the months or years street children and youth learn to interact and comply with the expectations of their own group, and are more influenced by it. It is in this way that the Tikyan community enables a street child to establish a new identity, and is a means through which street children can voice their collective indignation at the way they are treated by mainstream society.
Keyword street children
youth culture
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown
Additional Notes Street Children and other papers, published online only

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Created: Tue, 13 Apr 2010, 11:11:28 EST by Ms Lynette Adams on behalf of Faculty of Social & Behavioural Sciences