Gambling, Dancing, Sex Work: Notions of Youth Employment in Uganda

Volume 48 Number 3
Published: May 23, 2017

Using the case of Uganda, this article explains how previously displaced youth conceptualise employment compared to what is formally understood as employment by national and cultural institutions. Using key informant interviews, focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, the study examined the experiences of formerly displaced youth in Northern Uganda. Findings indicate that in order to survive, these youth participate in socially and culturally unacceptable activities, some of which are criminal offences. This article focuses on these deviant forms of employment, arguing that the youth population has been framed as unemployed based on a formal understanding of work. Yet, in Northern Uganda, this disregards the complexities of the lives of the formerly displaced, leading to the criminalisation and pathologisation of alternative forms of income generation. This research concludes that these forms of work can betransformative and empowering for young people and thus deserving of attention from policymakers and development practitioners.


  • Gender
  • Risky behaviour
  • conflict
  • Sex work.
From Issue: Vol. 48 No. 3 (2017) | Africa’s Youth Employment Challenge: New Perspectives