On the 14th of October 2016, Susanne Liljeholm Hansson from the Gothenburg team led a seminar with a group of professional social workers at The Social Resource Management Unit of the City of Gothenburg with the title Exclusion and Inclusion – Contrasts or Preconditions.
This organisation offers and manages a lot of different services within the welfare field. The day was arranged by an internal network of the organisation which focuses especially on issues about children’s and young people’s rights. Youth participation is a key concept in their work.
Susanne started the seminar with the presentation “but this is almost only about boys!” The question dealt with was: How can everyday micro-level narrative interactions contribute to the reproduction of excluding structures on a macro-level? The basis was a study of how teenage-girls are portrayed in stories about youth, gangs and criminality in some socioeconomically challenged neighbourhoods in Gothenburg. In the second presentation, PARTISPACE, formal, non-formal and informal possibilities of young people’s participation in European cities, focus was changed from exclusion to inclusion. After a review of the background, purpose and content of the PARTISPACE-project, some preliminary results from the Gothenburg case study were presented.
The day concluded with a joint discussion. The main questions from the presentations were then linked to the everyday practice of the attending social workers. Some of the themes discussed were the importance of viewing youth participation as an essential part of a democratic process, and, ‘to be able to define ’youth participation’ you have to be young yourself’. The group also concluded that the complexity and multifaceted nature of these questions, makes it easy to feel overwhelmed as an individual social worker. However, they also pointed out the importance of not forgetting what actually can be done ‘in a small scale’. Questions returned back to the PARTISPACE research teams were: What is the impact of extensive societal investment in young people’s participation? To what extent do we know if these kinds of measures actually increase young people’s opportunities to exert power and influence in questions they perceive as important?