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Promoting participation at a time of social and political turmoil: what is the impact of children’s and young people’s city councils?

Sant, E and Davies, I (2017) Promoting participation at a time of social and political turmoil: what is the impact of children’s and young people’s city councils? Cambridge Journal of Education, 48 (3). pp. 371-387. ISSN 0305-764X

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Abstract

We examine youth councils as spaces of citizenship education where young people are educated as political subjects. At a time of political and economic instability data were collected in a Catalan city through tests and focus groups involving 112 students, 3 teachers and 2 youth council managers during one academic year. Students’ political trust decreased and their cynicism towards politics increased; and, there were no changes in students’ anticipated future participation. We avoid drawing simplistic causal links between students’ involvement in a council and the expression of their views. Our participants also discuss the councils as performance sites. We speculate whether, in students’ views, this metaphor of performance applies not only to the councils but to the wider political context in which they live. We argue that youth councils are, in some ways, potentially valuable for promoting participation and make recommendations in light of our findings.

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