The UP2YOUTH project has collected a number of case studies on policies
and practices in our research fields. These case studies have been
selected to represent current trends in policy-making in Europe. An
explanation of the idea behind this collection can be found here.
In the following, UP2YOUTH coordination team member Andreas Walther
draws policy and practice implications from the UP2YOUTH research
findings. More general policy implications of our research can be found
in the "Results" section of this website.
An agency-based approach to enhancing young
people’s participation regarding “decisions
which concern them and, in general, the life of their communities”
(European Commission, 2001, p.8) implies the following set of quality
Accepting a diversity of
conceptual and actual types of participation and overcoming the dominant
dichotomies of what is and what is not participation:
Firstly, because not all young
people have the same opportunities and competencies;
Secondly, because different
issues are relevant for different young people;
Thirdly, because different
types of participation hold the key to understanding the changing meaning of
participation – including the changing meaning of politics, collectivism and
public space – in late modernity.
mechanisms in all (‘hard and soft’) institutional contexts in which young
people’s lives and transitions to adulthood are shaped:
School: extending pupils and
students participation from organising extra-curricular activities to
participation on contents, forms, assessment and organisation of learning;
Youth policy: broadening the
opportunities of young people’s involvement beyond youth councils through
projects that allow for on-and-off engagement and open youth work;
Transitions to work: allowing
for both choice and experimentation in counselling, orientation, pre-vocational
education, training, work experience and employment schemes through negotiation
and/or veto rights for unemployed young people in relation to institutional job
and/or training scheme offers and the provision of service user councils in
relevant institutions (e.g. job centre);
Transitions to parenthood:
young parents as well as young people in transition to parenthood need to be
consulted in relation to family policy making whilst also being allowed choice
and flexibility in other transition policies.
Providing public spaces in
which young people can:
Express and negotiate their
needs and interests, their experiences and their views,
Experiment with life styles in
interaction with others (peers groups and the wider community).
Young people should not be
criminalized in occupying and utilizing public space; the differing needs and
interests of young people and other citizens can be reconciled through
negotiation between and amongst these groupings.
Ensuring that alternative
solutions meet all of the young people’s needs; not just the easiest to satisfy (e.g. providing
‘half-pipes’ for skaters in the suburban outskirts will not end conflicts in
the city centre as skaters strive for visibility).
decoupling of participation rights from achievements and progress in transitions
Conditions of de-standardised transitions to adulthood have lead to
a postponement and partial suspension of the citizenship status of young
people, participation in itself must be a right for young people.
Current trends (e.g. the Commission’s communication on youth policy
‘Investing and Empowering’, European Commission, 2009) increasingly connect
participation with the generation of human capital. While participation is
likely to have multiple learning effects, participation must not be reduced to
measurable competence and employability. A number of key points emerge in this
Learning from participation is
non-formal learning; it cannot be designed per
se but only be designed for. Wenger 1998, p.)
Young people’s labour market integration
is not only a problem of employability and education; it also stems from
economic flexibilisation and globalisation. Given the relationship between
education and social inequality, connecting participation and human capital may
increase rather than reduce unequal citizenship rights among young people.
need to be recognised as contextual settings in which young people develop
political orientations together with subjectively meaningful life styles. This
suggests that policy making has to;
Accept and support political
countercultures rather than criminalise them;
youth cultural activities as young people attempting to balance their
identities and shape their lives in public.
people’s activities in the public realm, or directed to a public audience, as potentially participatory implies that
any means of dialogue, exchange and understanding exhibits the young people’s
underlying needs, interest and aspirations as well as offering the potential
for altered meanings of participation.