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Building Institutions of Hope: Emancipation and Hope

Braithwaite, John
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. 592(March): 79-98.

The structure of this article will be first to discuss how hope has ceased being the virtue it once was and how this may foster disengagement and depression in late-modern peoples rather than emancipation. The essay posits a recursive relationship between hope and emancipation as fundamental to explaining wealth and poverty in capitalist societies. Young people are especially at risk of never learning how to grasp hope through emancipation and emancipation through hope. The article goes on to describe the concrete Californian idea of an Emancipation Conference that applies restorative justice principles to future building for young people in difficult circumstances. These conferences involve an explicit methodological commitment to identifying strengths and building out from them, as opposed to solving problems in young people’s lives.
This strategy is then generalized in the idea of Youth Development Circles. It seeks to respond to what is conceived as the dual structural dilemma of human and social capital formation in contemporary economies. The first element of the dilemma is that with children whose families lack endowments of human and social capital, we rely on state-funded education systems to compensate. Yet we quickly run up against limits in the capabilities of formal education bureaucracies to make up for deficits that, particularly in the case of social capital, are profoundly informal. More informal, flexibly networked compensatory institutions are needed for human and social capital formation, and this is the idea of the Youth Development Circle. (excerpt)


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