“I think this is very unique. Apart from my family they are the most important.” A case study on informal relations in a youth project

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Sociologi

Abstract: This thesis is based on a case study conducted during eight weeks in a youth project in Colombia. The project aims to support vulnerable youth from communities outside Cartagena into entering higher education and enhance their engagement in social work in their communities. The purpose of the thesis was to investigate how the relationships established in the project interplayed with the project’s progress and its participants’ personal development. Three aspects of the project relations became our focus: informal relationships, trust and encouragement. Our data collection was done through participatory observations, individual interviews and focus group discussions with participants and mentors of the project. Because of our two majors in Behavioural science, the theoretical framework and research questions has derived from both Social psychology theories and Relational pedagogy. We believe they complement each other when explaining how relationships with others influence the individuals’ development. Our main results show that the project members’ informal relationships, trust and encouragement were a basis for the participants’ personal development. We suggest that these relationships, which had extended beyond formal project relations, were necessary for the participants in order to cope with the project. The study therefore highlights the importance of building relationships for the formal project work to proceed.

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