Skip to content

Partispace second public report

‘Claiming Spaces and Struggling for Recognition’

The second public report of the Partispace study, has now been published, find out the entire report here.

It draws on the most sustained empirical research that has been undertaken in this project.

Between 2015 and 2017 the Partispace research team in each city conducted 20 expert interviews, 10 group discussions or city walks, 6 case studies and 12 biographical interviews. The case studies included one setting in each city which is a Youth Forum and then five other settings which include a range of participatory activities, some supported by Youth Workers and many which are self-organised.  The meaning of “being young” and a European/global citizen in those spaces needs to be understood in each case; it may not differ significantly from the meanings which other older citizens experience, and at the same time it may indeed differ, especially in relation to the articulation of power and to enfranchisement.

We analyse the ethnographic evidence in terms of seven clusters of case studies: Representation of Interests as Rights and Obligation; Fighting within and with the political system; Living Social Alternatives as a Political Model; Producing and Negotiating Own Spaces; Inbetween service of humanity and service enterprise; Exploring Interests, Developing and Performing Skills; Pedagogically Supervised Leisure Infrastructure for Young People.

The biographical interviews are analysed in the following clusters: Self-made Wo/man Stories; Experimentation stories; Doing/changing/taking responsibilities stories; Rediscovering oneself and identity stories; Stories demonstrating the centrality of role models/important figures or their lack.

The following Cross-Cutting themes are also presented:  Cross cutting theme 1: Participation, spaces and narratives – the negotiation of boundaries and what is pushed to an edge or beyond the boundary .Cross-Cutting Theme 2: Tensions of Participation – Political, Cultural, Social. Cross-cutting theme 3: Relations between young people and adults and implicit and explicit models of learning and education Cross-cutting theme 4: “We are like a family”Emotions and participation in young people’s lives. Cross-cutting theme 5: Temporalities of participation.

Summed up in brief, this study shows that:

  • The spaces and places of participation and belonging may be social and cultural as much as or more than political in the sense that “politics” is understood in representative democracy. Yet young people very often claim, at least in part, their activities as concerned with more than their own personal interests and having to do with the possible future direction of society.
  • They therefore participate in a “politics of the social”. This is sometimes repressed and often times made marginal.
  • We argue that an opening up the current understandings of democracy and civil society and therefore participation to the ways of being present in this study can be a source of renewal.

Contrary to the findings of survey data, the empirical research reported on in ‘Claiming Spaces and Struggling for Recognition’   shows that young people across Europe are active citizens, but the forms of their active citizenship is too often going unrecognised.