This paper seeks to engage in a critical debate around the socio-cultural contexts and academic understandings of agency and vulnerability. It proposes an agency–vulnerability nexus as a useful conceptual tool to consider these linked concepts and how they have been related in the literature on children and youth and across social and cultural contexts. We use the term ‘nexus’ as we seek to explore ‘agency’ and ‘vulnerability’ not as antonymic binaries but as multi-dimensional connections created both by individuals and by the socio-cultural settings in which they inhabit. Drawing on secondary analysis of data from Growing up on the Streets, a longitudinal ethnographic research project where street children and youth were both participants and researchers, the paper examines the applicability of the agency–vulnerability nexus among young people living in street settings. It concludes that by acknowledging a plurality of conceptual perspectives around children and youth agency, the agency–vulnerability nexus can be used conceptually, to better understand street children and youth’s experiences.
- street settings