Navigating precarious employment: Social networks among migrant youth in Ghana

Thomas Yeboah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


This article is concerned with the precarious employment situations of migrant youth and the supportive role of social networks. It draws on interviews conducted with 30 young migrants in Accra, Ghana. The empirical findings reveal that the precarious nature of young people’s employment manifests in the uncertain nature of work, exploitation by clients and employers, as well as low and irregular income. These lead to socioeconomic hardships such as not being able to meet basic needs. The article further demonstrates how social networks strengthen young migrants’ agency through the provision of financial resources that allow them to navigate hardships. However, exploitative practices are also inherent within these networks and this article exposes these, alongside the demonstrable benefits. Provision of financial support for rural young people to further their education, enforcement of laws within the informal sector and support for migrants’ networks would help improve the situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-94
Number of pages16
JournalIDS Bulletin
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2017 The Author. IDS Bulletin © Institute of Development Studies | DOI: 10.19088/1968-2017.128 This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 4.0 International licence, which permits downloading and sharing provided the original authors and source are credited – but the work is not used for commercial purposes.

Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


  • Africa
  • Economic survival
  • Head porters
  • Inequality
  • Informal sector
  • Migration
  • Social injustice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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