Children, young people, and participation. Youth Policy Working Paper No 3

Authors

Alex Farrow

Abstract

“Youth” is everywhere right now. With the massive growth in the number of structures, policies and focus on youth, alongside street protests in cities across the world, young people’s participation and activism is in the spotlight.

This paper explores academic literature and recent publications and considers the relevance of traditional participation models and theories at a time where young people have the ability to be heard and realise change in a way that bypasses formal organisations. Particular attention is given to the instigators of young people’s participation and their aims: principally this paper ends it is adults seeking individual character change at a time when young people seek radical social change.

Finally, the paper explores the absence of power in formal processes. The wave of social uprisings and civil unrest has demonstrated young people’s willingness to confront powerful regimes and institutions ― even against the threat of police brutality, sexual abuse, and violence. Their precarious activism sits uncomfortably alongside the rhetoric of youth participation through events, structures and processes.