UP2YOUTH report is primarily concerned with theoretical reflections on the
relationship between young people's agency, social integration and social
change. These reflections hold implications for policies and practices that
concern young people which we are presenting in this article.
insight of the report is that young people depend to a large extent on society's facilitating structure (such as
access to socio-economic resources and opportunity spaces) in order to
negotiate, shape and cope with uncertain transitions to family, work and
citizenship. This is especially relevant to those young people with precarious
the success of these facilitating measures and structures cannot in turn secure
predictable trajectories. For this to occur young people need to perceive these
structures as accessible, relevant and manageable and, consequently, to accept
and use them.
that for young people to successfully use structures such structures should
facilitate the individual according to his or her own subjective needs and
on previous EU-funded research such as Misleading Trajectories (Walther et al.
2002) and Youth Policy and Participation
(Walther et al. 2006) in which the concept of Integrated Transitions Policies (cf. López-Blasco et al. 2003) is
highlighted. Integrated Transition Policies are characterised by coordinating
the different policies affecting young people's lives. They tend to start from
the young people's own biographical perspective. The analysis of research on
young parenthood in particular has revealed that this is not yet the case for
many young women and men; a lack of resources and opportunities needed to
reconcile work, studies and family continues to hamper their progress.
Pais (2003) has
metaphorically described youth trajectories in late modernity as a maze with youth policies mostly aiming
at helping young people out of the maze.
As Pais argues however, the metaphor does not apply to youth only but
also to late modern life in general whereby such policies morph into misleading
trajectories. Appropriate policies, in contrast to this approach, focus on
supporting life within the maze.
transitions processes rather than focussing on the potential but increasingly
uncertain end point or arrival (whether this is work, family or an adult
citizen status) implies a balance between security and flexibility.
On the one hand
young people need income security as well as secure access to appropriate forms
of social support; on the other hand these support systems need to be highly
flexible in allowing young people individualised use.
(Stauber et al. 2003) is closest to the transition systems of the
universalistic regime type wherein social rights to support are connected to
citizenship status independently (in the main) of the individual's life
regimes share the reference point of the individual citizen while the concept
of citizenship is rather more that of a self-responsible entrepreneur than of
an autonomous individual embedded in and supported by reciprocal solidarity.
In contrast the
employment-centred and sub-protective transition regimes systems of social
security and support are largely connected to family and employment status.
This implies different levels of support as well as inflexibility; in regard to
both individual cases and to social change in general.
characteristic of Integrated Transition Policies is the reflexivity of
institutional actors in order to facilitate the differing needs and differing
effects of support in differing youth biographies.
The salient fact
that the otherwise positive performances of the universalistic transition
regimes does not extend to the same extent to the transitions of ethnic
minority and migrant youth populations suggests that other (dis-)integrative
factors are at play which are not usually taken into consideration.
migrant and ethnic minority youth receive contradictory messages between inclusive
education and/or welfare services and paradoxical messages regarding exclusive
immigration policies. These conflicting communications may well undermine the
feeling of being recognised as an individual and crucially also undermine trust
in the institutions offering support.
The final key
principle that emerges from Integrated Transition Policies is participation as
the right of choice in taking biographical decisions. This choice participation
needs to be underpinned through income security and negotiation rights.
been concerned with the obvious mismatch between institutional expectations of
how young people should participate and young people's actual activities and
priorities. According to Zygmunt Bauman (1995) this transpires from a lack of public
space wherein individuals can communicate their needs, interest and
aspirations. This public space also serves as a negotiating forum for concerned
citizens, be they young or not. The inadequacy of public institutions such as
education, family and welfare policy or indeed of participation programmes for
such dialogic exchange is due to their institutional prerequisites in terms of
specific ways of conduct, of life style and of aspiration.
young people do not feel recognised as individuals policies need to be designed
in a manner that allows for visibility
to ensure that one's subjective needs and interest are not neglected. It also
needs to be accepted that young people are
already acting: more or less successfully due to unequal access to
resources and more or less in line with dominant norms and models of coping in
society. Discrepancies may partly result from lack of competencies and
opportunities but these discrepancies also reflect that young people have to
make decisions and have to act under conditions which have dramatically
changed; changes that institutional actors have not yet fully realised or
In the following
articles, we break down the more general recommendations developed thus far into more
specific recommendations and quality standards regarding the three UP2YOUTH topics: