Environmental Entanglements: The Intersectionality of Youth Participation in an Eco-Schools Club in South Africa
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Youth participation in environmental issues tends to be unquestionably accepted simply as something ‘good’. This research takes a step back to critically explore youth participation in an Eco-Schools club in a girls’ high school in South Africa. The purpose is to understand the ways in which the girls’ participation in the club fits into their everyday lives as young students. The focus is on the students’ understandings of their participation and how they make sense of it in relation to other aspects and areas of their lives. The findings suggest the concept of intersectionality can provide a useful framework to understand participation, while ideas such as identity, spatiality and temporality can provide new insights into how and why young people participate in an environmental club. Participation is explored not as an isolated category in young people’s lives, but rather in the context of their everyday happenings, in relation to the other aspects of what they do and who they are. Youth environmental participation is revealed to be a complex phenomenon characterised by multiplicity and intersectionality – in the everyday process of the students participating in, and constructing the space(s) of, the Eco-Schools club, entanglements emerge amongst their multiple intersecting activities, multiple intersecting identities, and multiple intersecting temporalities.