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In search of the beloved community: dancing to a different tune of youth participation

Forkby, Torbjörn and Batsleer, Janet (2020) In search of the beloved community: dancing to a different tune of youth participation. Ethnography and Education. pp. 1-16. ISSN 1745-7823

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One element of the PARTISPACE study into spaces and styles of Youth Participation in eight European cities is presented in this article. Drawing on ethnographically informed studies of four sites in three cities, the paper analyses the ways in which young people construct and sustain alternatives to the policy-driven forms of participation, based on their yearning and aspiration for different relations than those found in ordinary life. We suggest four themes as characterising their search for community: Places where communities are born; Breaking out of the Ordinary; Differentiated Openness and Protected Zones of Experimentation. In conversation with the work of bell hooks on ‘homeplaces’ and Victor Turner on anti-hegemonic anti-structures, the analysis suggests that young people’s self-created spaces give insights into what ‘youth participation’ might be and that forms of protection of such alternative spaces are an inbuilt necessity and not necessarily to be seen as exclusionary or anti-democratic.

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