Bringing the Street Back In:Considering Strategy, Contingency and Relative Good Fortune in Street Children’s Access to Paid Work in Accra


A sociology of street children has emerged defined by its rejection of the dominant narratives of child welfare organisations that identify the street as the root cause of children’s immiseration and improper socialisation. In its place, sociological analysis has undermined the value of conceptualising street children as a coherent group on the street and in a parallel move has looked to conceptually reposition street children away from assumptions of passivity and neglect, towards a foundational insistence that the starting place for analysis is the positioning of street children as active and strategic social agents. It is the adequacy of this latter concern that is the focus of this article. By reintroducing the location of children within the social relations of the informal street economy, this article draws upon extensive and long-term qualitative research examining the lives of street children in Accra, Ghana. The argument here is that sociological notions of strategic action and efficacious agency seem ill-suited to accounting for the dilemmas and difficulties that street children’s quests for paid work inevitably involve. Rather, it is relative good fortune within the radical uncertainty of the social relations of the informal street economy that seems much more appropriate to accounting for how these children are integrated into work

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Policy
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Critical Inquiry into Society and Culture (CCISC)
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publication ISSN: 1467-954X
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Related URLs: http://journals ... 038026118771279 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-09-01
Published Online Date: 2018-04-13
Accepted Date: 2018-04-06
Submitted Date: 2017
Authors: Mizen, Phillip (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5096-7525)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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