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PARTISPACE – Spaces and Styles of Participation

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

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 15-30-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 following countries are involved: Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the UK.

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 spaces.
  • 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.


The PARTISPACE project provides empirical knowledge on how to broaden the concepts of participation. The core of this knowledge lies in relating individual biographies of young people and the social spaces in which they act in order to understand the meaning of participation from their perspective. On the one hand, this knowledge contributes to a deeper theoretical understanding of participation of young people in individualized societies. On the other hand, this knowledge is relevant for practices and policies aimed at enhancing and facilitating participation across formal, non-formal and informal settings.

The project receives funding from the EU’s Horizon2020 research programme from 2015 to 2018.