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Condescension or
codecision:
scrutinising
institutional youth
participation
Georg Boldt
georgmboldt@gmail.com
#cim16
Background
The city of Helsinki youth department initiated a pilot project of
participatory budgeting in 2013
The first ca...
The field
Ethnographic participatory observation (May-
November 2013) followed by five group-
interviews with thirteen par...
Conditions of participation
Selection
Deliberation
Mikko: Two hours with two weeks in between…
Fanny: That's it, I feel th...
Different voices
Core participants are less critical while those in
the margins of the participatory experince were
more o...
Youth friendly
participation?Fanny: Well there were less people present so we could
discuss the issues at hand and be more...
Hopes and fears
Matti: Many things affect young people and they
know more about them because they are affected by
them eve...
Conclusions
Difficult to implement deliberative democracy without other
institutional changes in support of inclusion and ...
Condescension or codecision: scrutinising institutional youth participation
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Condescension or codecision: scrutinising institutional youth participation

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Georg Boldt

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Condescension or codecision: scrutinising institutional youth participation

  1. 1. Condescension or codecision: scrutinising institutional youth participation Georg Boldt georgmboldt@gmail.com #cim16
  2. 2. Background The city of Helsinki youth department initiated a pilot project of participatory budgeting in 2013 The first case of participatory budgeting in Finland and a departure from the common model of youth participation in Finland, the city youth council. Studies show that participatory budgeting can result in frustration when real participation is missing but that it can also lead to inclusion of marginalized groups, increase active citizenship and vitality of democracy (Talpin 2011, Berger 2015). Deliberative theory suggests some ideal conditions of participation to ensure procedural legitimacy. These revolve around access to information, selection of participants, influence over outcome and quality deliberation (Fung 2006, Irvin & Stansbury 2004). Do these conditions need to be fulfilled in order for an experience of meaningful participation?
  3. 3. The field Ethnographic participatory observation (May- November 2013) followed by five group- interviews with thirteen participants. Hearing process consisted of an introductory event, two workshops, a school vote and a meeting of an executive committee. About 500 12-16 year old school students from the area participated. The workshops had 20 participants.
  4. 4. Conditions of participation Selection Deliberation Mikko: Two hours with two weeks in between… Fanny: That's it, I feel the process was left unfinished Emma: There’s always that stiffness in the beginning, nobody speaks even if they are thinking of something and when we get up to speed and the ideas start flowing, suddenly we have to leave! Information Influence
  5. 5. Different voices Core participants are less critical while those in the margins of the participatory experince were more overt. “Surprise, surprise, the youth understand and they know how to read too. Could we just vote?” Resistance and subversion
  6. 6. Youth friendly participation?Fanny: Well there were less people present so we could discuss the issues at hand and be more flexible. The meeting was around a table and there were chairs for everyone… Mikko: Sometimes I feel we are jumping from one thing to the other, there we actually had an agenda which made things clear. These workshop meetings have mainly been about practical things like drawing and such… Fanny: ..gluing pieces of paper together…. Mikko: Feels like being in kindergarten… it’s crazy to spend time on stuff like that and then to have to hurry without enough time to finish anything. Fanny: …it goes like: ”You have five minutes to finish this thing, then continue with the next one!”
  7. 7. Hopes and fears Matti: Many things affect young people and they know more about them because they are affected by them everyday. Hilkka: It (youth participation) would make it more youth like and not just according to what the adults think would be best. The voice of the target group should be heard. Tiina: The worst would be if they just forget our ideas. Matilda: That nothing came of it. Me: How would that feel? Tiina: I would probably feel disappointed. Juha: Like we wasted our time coming here, missing our lessons at school and at the end nothing comes out of it.
  8. 8. Conclusions Difficult to implement deliberative democracy without other institutional changes in support of inclusion and transparency The ideal conditions of participation have relevance in terms of the experience of meaningful participation. Core participants found participation meaningful, otherwise young people remained in very marginal positions throughout the process in terms of influence. However, other factors are important too. Especially how the skills and needs of the target group are taken into consideration. Pluralistic youth participation needs methods where socioeconomic conditions and cultural capital are not prerequisites for participation Analyzing micro-level interaction in the field could increase understanding of the marginal actors.

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