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16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions; Research Projects; 2015; 2016; 2017; 2018

Spaces and Styles of Participation. Formal, non-formal and informal possibilities of young people’s participation in European cities

Existing research suggests that political participation and European orientation of young people depend on how they
experience influence and involvement at local level. This reflects that individuals need the experience of self-efficacy to
engage in wider communities. Research also reveals that only few young people engage in formalised participation (parties,
trade unions, or youth councils) as these are not flexible enough for individualised concerns, biographies and life styles and
they reflect patterns of social inequality.
The project Spaces and Styles of Participation (PARTISPACE) starts from the assumption that all young people do
participate while not all participation is recognised as such. The study asks for the different ways in which young people
participate in decisions „which concern them and, in general, the life of their communities”. How do 15- and 30-year-olds
engage with the public in formal, non-formal and informal settings and how is this supported or inhibited by local youth
policies and youth work? The countries involved – Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the
UK – secure contrasting contexts of young people’s growing up as well as differing orientations towards Europe.
The design of PARTISPACE includes:
• National research literature reviews and policy analysis;
• Analysis of European Social Survey data on young people’s participatory orientations;
• Local case studies in one major city per country including expert interviews, focus groups discussions, city walks and
biographical interviews with young people, ethnographic case studies of formal, non-formal, and informal participatory
• Activating and supporting participatory action research by young people themselves.
The analysis relates local constellations with national and European patterns and discourses of youth participation. Findings
are constantly discussed with representatives of the youth sector at local and European level.

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