Self-constructions of street kids situated in Lusaka (Zambia)
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On one hand, Zambian street kids have been portrayed as needy victims of socio-economic · forces; on the other hand, they have been portrayed as a social menace that needs to be gotten rid of. In this study, I set out to investigate how Zambian street kids see themselves. In doing this, I shifted the focus from street kids' etic representations to emic discourse-emergentreflexive identities. The study sought to explore 1) the reflexive identities of Zambian street kids, 2) how these identities are constructed, and 3) the social functions of these identities.The research design was anchored on positioning theory, and used ideas of space and social construction of meaning to inform data collection and analysis. Qualitative data from peripatetic interviews were analysed using discourse analysis, with a specific focus on thepositioning triad. The analysis has shown that, as male Zambian street kids carve forthemselves a survival niche on the streets of Lusaka, they construct themselves as vulnerablevictims, heroic victims, and as human beings par excellence. These identities are indexed to the hard times .storyline. In constructing these identities for themselves, street kids legitimise their unreserved inclusion in the mainstream Zambian society while at the same time undermining ascribed negative identities by which they are separated from, and discriminated against, by society. The identities also help street kids attract charitable reactions. It also emerged that the self-constructions of street kids are constrained by the panoptic gaze of the hegemonic moral order. However, the voices of female street kids are still absent and future research remains to include them.