Participation: a new place for youth in society and policies1.
Dina Krauskopf Latin American School of Social Science-Chile The speed of social change and its consequences in generational relations, the individualization of life courses and the complex nature of identities as well as the incorporation of clear rights and citizenship perspectives lead to new strategies for dealing with the different situations affecting young people. Youth has a central role to play collaborating in enriching the spaces for public action and democratic development. The need thus arises both at the state and society level for having not only relevant sector policies, but also policies for social actors. Latin American society has brewed strong antagonistic tensions between adults and youth. On the one side there is resistance from adults in accepting the leading role and decision-making powers that young people show, while on the other side there is the resistance that youths express. Their active disconnection from society highlights the mistrust felt towards institutions where scarcely any youth-inclusive proposals are seen. The more traditional concepts of political culture emerge in the context of a State model that addresses wide-ranging functions within society, viewing youth as a generational stepping stone towards a future adult stage. These stand-points have been replaced due to changes in the State apparatus, the speed of social change and its consequences in generational relations, life courses and the increasingly hybrid nature of identities. Participation is not a concept which may be univocal, devoid of any history and isolated from other dimensions. In the analysis of youth participation it is important to know the relationship enjoyed with the quality of democracy, the political system, inclusion policies, cultural diversity, gender relations, existing channels for initiative proposal, methods for institutionalization and legitimization of participation, the resolution of generational gaps and associative forms. Social achievements and the satisfactory interaction between adults and young people require as a precondition the existence of an intergenerational dialogue and mutual acknowledgement. The situation is no longer that of an informed adult generation versus a young generation devoid of any rights or knowledge, yet to be prepared. The place of youth within society has changed and with it the quality required in its participation. 1.Difficulties in incorporating youth participation

Internacional Conference on Youth Policy and Research.Fron theory to Practice-Evidence Based Youth Policy.Vienna,2009.

2 The difficulty of incorporating current changes in the relationships with the youth sector is largely responsible for interpretations that lead to the widely disseminated concept of a misadjusted youth, placing emphasis on the apathy or alienation youngsters feel towards politics. Promoting youth participation in the design, management and monitoring of relevant actions and the assessment made of politics enables reverting the mistrust felt by youth towards institutions and thus reduce communication and civic gaps among generations. Youth surveys in Latin America show the resistance youngsters feel towards participation in electoral processes. The logic behind party policies tends towards cooption, to which young people are particularly negative towards. Many perceive the political system and that of political parties as being far removed from youth demands and feel that they fail to have any commitment with greater levels of equality. A minority does have political or ideological preferences, while the percentage of militants is indeed reduced. All told, a rejection towards policies does not mean democracy ought to be rejected. In the Fourth Chilean National Survey on Youth, held in 2003, young people mentioned that democracy was preferable, yet that as a government system it ought to undergo further tuning (ECLAC, 2004). In Costa Rica, the First National Survey on Youth (2007) shows that 70% of young people aged 30 to 35 definitely support democracy as being the best existing political system , followed by 65.30% of those aged 25 to 29, 63.60% of youngsters aged 18 to 24, and 55.1% of those aged between 15 and 17. This divorce seen between politics and political processes, as well as the ways in which youth participation is seen to operate as repulsive, rejected and self affirmative, also exacerbate the negative perception held by society regarding the young. This facet is confirmed by Latinobarómetro (2007) through its perceptions measurements applied in nearly every country in Latin America. The social relationship with the young is conflictive, on measuring up the actors in social conflict, Latinobarometer notes that conflict among society and the young is ranked in third place in priority, with 64%, only conflicts between rich and poor (75%) and labour conflict (72%) receiving more mentions. This fact suggests there are important obstacles in recognizing, empowering and the incidence of the young in societal projects. The acknowledgement of an uncertain current status of future, the speed in which the progress of cognitive and social tools becomes obsolete, and the ease with which the young easily absorb new technologies, all contribute towards triggering an adult crisis in intergenerational management2 . Interventions aimed at promoting youth participation ought to take into account this generational approach. The young delegitimize any adult intervention not based on a clear communication which may enable openness. This change is going to influence in the new relations established among young and adult. Just as a gender approach laid bare the existence of sexism, a modern focus on youth lays bare what has been called

Krauskopf, Dina (2003) “Proyectos, Incertidumbre y Futuro en el Período Juvenil”. En: Archivos Argentinos de Pediatría. Julio.101 (6) Buenos Aires.

3 “adultism”, with its specific problems in inter-generational relations, which may place difficulties in youth development and participation. There is on both generational groups a difficulty in hearing each other and paying attention. A communicational block leads to the rise of parallel discourses and realities which lead to difficulties in undertaking joint-construction. It is pressing to build intergenerational bridges as a pre-condition for dialogue, where the space available for the young as producers and participants, with their own codes and visions is not merely ritualistic3. 2. Youth participation today New information and communication technology invariably accentuate the generational gap and are addressed in radically different ways by young and adult. The situation is no longer that of a well prepared adult population versus a Young one lacking any rights and knowledge and yet to be prepared. Both require permanent preparation4. There are elements that require input from both generations in order to attain full understanding and progress. The change in the position occupied by the youth calls out for opportunities for greater levels of protagonism and the full potential of youth in social development. , Youth participation not only needs to be understood given its relationship with the adult segment, but also to acknowledge its own forms of empowerment that Young people build and the transformation of the contents of youth participation. Regarding participation with autonomy, Young people initiate action, develop projects and their own proposals, set objectives, methods, express themselves if necessary with their own codes and seek support, assessment and hand-holding from adults when they so require it. . Young people can fulfill different roles in the various participation spaces available. Among these there are: the consultative, deliberation, decision-making, and executive role, Young people may also act as volunteers, promoters, building their own sphere of knowledge and as allies Youth prefer aesthetic aspects, ie the way in which they present themselves to the world, the intensity of feelings and the elaboration of new artistic expressions. Participation assigns priority to the right to have various life styles, in where many youth organization initiatives find themselves and which manifest them for greater pluralism and against the censorship imposed upon their life options. The ethical aspect in social relationships is an issue that motivates participation, fitting in within mobilizations consisting particularly by young people to fight against corruption, social injustice, impunity and discrimination of marginalized groups. All the above is situated in new political understandings, where Young people have internalized the

Krauskopf,Dina.Paticipación social y desarrollo en la adolescencia.UNFPA.2003 Lutte, G. Liberar la Adolescencia. La Psicología de los Jóvenes de Hoy. Biblioteca de Psicología. Herder. Barcelona, 1991.

4 idea that power relations have a role to play in the many spaces created, and which are not necessarily restricted to State institutions5. New short term and specific modalities and those that reflect the participative, political commitment of youth, where information and communication technologies (ICT) play a decisive role in recreating forms of participation, reference spaces, and the generation of youth association guidelines through interactive networks. Contemporary youth seeks to participate in orbits distant from political and state policy: support groups, social fora, community initiatives and collectives, youth local movements, youth volunteer groups, alliances between youth, ecologists and native Indian groups. Latin America has seen in recent years a rising level of participation in these issues, particularly among Young people aged 15 to 25 years of age6 (ECLAC-IYO, 2004). There are various forms of organizing and associating together. There are pyramidal organizations emphasizing centralism and a highly institutionalized participation, where a sense of belonging and socialization predominates more so than does a citizen approach. New proposals oppose burocratization and greater regulation and prefer forms which are scarcely institutionalized. The organization is preferably horizontal where flexible and linking networks have a strong role to play. Individual participation is valued and emphasis is placed on the horizontal nature of coordinating processes. The respect for diversity and individual skills becomes central in practices, while the peer group respects heterogeneity. Thus those organizations where the individual matters less than does the mass collective aspect ceases to be of interest to new generations. Network of youths strive to function as facilitators and not as centralizing elements7 Participation within volunteer associations are increasingly accepted. Ethical motivations are mentioned, where gratification lies both in providing welfare to others as in being acknowledged in that role. It is about balancing out personal effort with mutual learning opportunities; develop gratifying intra and intergenerational relationships, making visible the practical effects of their own efforts and in presenting themselves in a more horizontal fashion within organizations8..


Krauskopf,Dina. "Dimensiones de la participación en las juventudes contemporáneas latinoamericanas". Revista Pensamiento Iberoamericano No. 3, 2a época, 2008/2, Madrid. pp. 165-182. 2008

CEPAL,OIJ La juventud en Iberoamérica. Tendencias y urgencias. Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe 2004 .

Serna, Leslie. Globalización y participación juvenil en Jóvenes. Rev. de Estudios de Juventud.4ª época. Año 5.México. 1998:50. 8 Hopenhayn, Martín Juventud y política pública: un binomio por armar. Ponencia presentada al Congreso Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Ciencias Sociales de FLACSO, 50 años. Quito, Ecuador. 2007

5 Young people give greater relevance to immediate action and tangible results regarding collective and individual action, preferring linkages devoid of hierarchy where the valued aspects are diversity and uniqueness. Flexibility in networking, reaffirming autonomy and identity become almost commonplace landmarks in youth participation Young people are pragmatic in their own way and combine the motivating aspects of their actions with creativity in the mobilized resources with greater reflection on participatory processes. In their own way, they build consistency into means and ends, as well as objecting to that lack of consistency seen in conventional politics. The classic social asymmetries, both material and symbolic, are fought using innovative ways of using communication and knowledge. It is thus how new technologies enable a new conception of the scale of information, the limits between things public and private and the ways in which these spheres are appropriated and prepared. Decentralization and off center approaches coincide within the logic of youth groups that link together and join forces to promote collective action in the economic, civic and cultural terrain9 . 3. Youth and participation policies At the heart of policies currently being built in Latin America is the acknowledgement of youth as an important force in the development of our societies. Given this approach, policy designers seek to look upon youth no longer as targets for certain services, but also as holders of certain rights and strategic players in development. It thus becomes necessary to include them both for addressing general issues as well as those present in their own agenda. It is quite well known that acknowledging youth participation is a positive factor and that it is also an opportunity which is appreciated by Young people. However, the denaturalization in participation spaces is something that may generate a crisis in confidence due to not seeing observable results. In these cases, the mere extension of spaces for participation has not bought with it improvements in democratic quality. Dávila and Silva write that: “youth policy tries to generate conditions in which Young people may fully realize their potential, while shaping the society in which they live”. Thus public policy on youth must be geared towards promoting participation of Young people in social, economic and political life of their country. This stance contradicts old paradigms that see Young people as incomplete human beings, still under formation and not yet subject to the exercise of young citizenry.


Lasch, Scout (2005) Critica de la Informacion.Amorrortu editores, Buenos Aires

6 According to Isabel Licha10, public policy on youth that fall within a citizen approach, “aim at strengthening the collective action of the youth movement, strengthening a citizen action that may reaffirm a sense of belonging, equality and cultural identity of the Young, attaining spaces for participation, for dialogue and negotiation, the development of solidarity approaches, and the building of a shared vision and practice”. A youth policy devoid of high levels of participation in all its phases runs the risk of being a set of actions or programs that may benefit the Young, yet without any coherence, a questionable legitimacy in their eyes and often completely unaware of its existence. As Tejeda points out “In order to be credible, an integral youth policy ought to be sustained within an ample youth participation initiative that may serve as a support, providing updated information and be seen as a permanent accompanying to the young.”11 3.1 Youth participation from a citizenry approach The citizenry approach sees Young people as people having full rights and responsibilities. The promotion of youth participation guarantees greater efficiency and representativeness and it is a necessary condition for the exercise and consolidation of their active youth citizenry. Citizenry becomes the framework through which participation is enabled, within a rights perspective. Youth citizenry is not merely expressed through the right to vote, the traditional way in which citizenry is exerted. The exercise of citizenry will enable the individual to transform from a mere passive receptor into a transforming and dynamic agent within their societies. Young people have expressed citizenry through art, their culture, or subculture and in various ways in which they organize and articulate themselves. An expression of the legitimization of this progress is seen in the Interamerican Convention on Youth Rights, an international instrument currently ratified by seven countries in the region. The consolidation of youth citizenry is important in youth policies, as it allows Young people to become full players that integrate and act within public life in their societies, also promoting that they be the leading players in their own development. The elaboration, implementation and evaluation of their youth policies and programs are not merely an instrument in promoting participation, but also becoming a space for them to exert citizenry . 3.2 Youth participation in the building of knowledge

Licha, Isabel. “Desafíos teóricos y prácticos de las políticas públicas para la construcción de ciudadanía juvenil en América Latina”. INDES, BID, 2006. Available in: [http://www.joveneslac.org/portal/000/opiniones/politicas-publicas-de-juventud.pdf] 11 Tejeda, Eddy. “Policy Memo Nacional República Dominicana”. Colectivo Latinoamericano de Jóvenes, Santo Domingo, D. N. 2007, 19p.

7 An aspect that has been much delayed in the participation arena is that of favouring the incidence of cognitive capital present in youth, perhaps because the possession of knowledge has traditionally been attributed to older generations or because they are seen as equals in the working world and thus compete in the job market. There is present among the youth a non-circulating cognitive capital, often they themselves are unaware of it and is not socially acknowledged. While in educational systems what prevails is a cultural capital which has lost its edge and which is transmitted down in ritualistic fashion, blocking the emerging forms in which youth build their knowledge base. Hence it becomes important to create spaces for youth participation in the creation of knowledge from their own kick-off points. However, it is commonplace to find that the areas where youth participation is actually promoted does not consider the production of knowledge as a form of participation in its own right. Young people are fully capable of being agents and promoters of knowledge within their societies, communities and to have the opportunity to study and influence various societal proposals through their own vision and skill set. The development of this aspect within a Regional Program for Latin America and the Caribbean has shown its success and importance. It was evident that democratic, self-built and freely available knowledge appears increasingly more as an important practice and source of reference for many young people. Internet is key in this, as is the alternatives that youth themselves are able to find in support of, and even in funding, the production of knowledge that may promote greater self-comprehension and which generates linkages among young people arising out of the knowledge produced, its effects on political aspects and empowerment to enable transformations. We thus understand that youth participation may be applied in various ways which are enhanced when linkages among them are built. The following figure (figure 1) illustrates participation as a triangle where three vertices interact, these being young people as actors of change and intervention using their own capacities, youth as producers of knowledge and youth participation in influencing their surroundings in the further developing and strengthening democracy. Figure1: Interactive axis in youth participation
Agent of change

Agent of knowledg e

Agent of incidence

8 4. Youth participation practices in public spaces Successful practices are found in various diverse levels. Some arise out of their own government while others from civil society. On occasions some historical convergences are produced. 4.1. Costa Rica. Youth participation in the building of a National Policy on Youth and its associated institutionality Young people participate in a policy management structure, as defined by the Youth National System. This system consist of interacting government levels and youth groups of civil society: The Youth Vice ministry, the National Council on public policy for young people,, District Youth Committees, and the Young People Consultative Network, whose representatives get together in the Young People’s National Assembly consultative network. Regarding youth participation, of note within the System is the presence of the National Youth Assembly, which promotes and approves policy initiatives. Also noteworthy is how policy implementation is spread out through the participation of the District Youth Committees. These have their own budgets and are present in every municipality in the country, preparing social projects involving young people and citizens in general. 4.2. Brazil. Participative building policy and management. The participative budget The mobilization of Brazilian civil society played a decisive role in ending authoritarian government in the early nineties. Its importance was made patent in the process that promoted participation in all fields of public policy, creating to this end an ad hoc institutionality at the local, state and national level, including meeting spaces where representatives from the State and from civil society may debate the definition of and the way of addressing public affairs. Having a fundamental importance within this new institutionality were the series of Conferences and Management Issue Councils held (relating to women, child, youth, afro descendants, among others). Among its many relevant aspects, the management model emphasizes the importance of an active public domain, it being obligatory that public programs and budgets emerge out of an informed discussion between government representatives, workers in the specialists areas and organized civil society (NGOs and relevant youth organizations). The conference system and the workings of the management councils imply a public policy building process involving a large number of participants at the local, state and national level. Marcillo Brandao12, a young grant holder from Colectivo Latinoamericano( Latin American Youth Collective) studied the experience and reported that in the State of Pernanbuco alone 84 municipal conferences were held with one state-level conference, where as many as 10.000 young people and relevant workers participated throughout the process.

Marcílio Dantas Brandao “Análise do orçamento estadual em benefício de jovens pernambucanos”.2008Investigación.Colectivo latinoamericano de Jóvenes.www.colectivojuventud.org (ganadores)

9 There were important public management innovations, such as participative management methodologies developed during the period in Porto Alegre. Participative budgets have been implemented in various States in Brazil and since replicated in Argentina, Chile and Colombia as a model in youth participation. Local government are jointly responsible for its implementation. Among its effects are enhanced credibility awarded to municipal administrations, and increased resources earmarked for youth sectors, there is also more youth participation in public spaces. Young people end up participating as animators, multiplicators, trainers, managers and evaluators. 4.3. Perú “diezmo juvenil”. Youth representatives within municipal councils Internacional Juvenil is the leading youth organization in matters regarding youth participation in public spaces, where government decisions regarding rights defense and youth institutions are discussed, garnering support, participation and mobilization of a large number of youth organizations. It places the so-called “diezmo juvenil”, a 10% participation of youth representatives within municipal councils, currently in force in Peru. It is currently involved in incorporating this 10% youth representation quota into parliament. They has also taken a Youth -Law project to parliament, in cooperation with a large number of organized youth groups. The so-called Youth Laws in Latin America first appear in Colombia in 1997. Other countries pick-up on this initiative, approving their respective youth laws: Dominican Republic in 2000; Ecuador and Nicaragua in 2001; Costa Rica and Venezuela in 2002 and Honduras in 2006. These laws create youth institutions, describe a set of rights and define lines regarding the development of a national policy on youth, define a target population, and define guidelines for structuring institutionality. In some youth laws there are operational problems that appear as fundamental: such as the need to provide strong binding characteristics, the possibility of youth being consulted, the existence of budgets organized around defined policies and not in a fragmentary and disseminated manner.


4.4.Chile. The Youth studies youth. Latin American Youth Collective (17 countries)13 This collective promotes linkages among youth as agents of knowledge and as agents of change, making their contributions visible and favours their participation in the development of youth public policy and social programs. The regional orientation given to the collective aims at breaking-down isolations, produce meetings where parties get to know each other, reinforce their capacity to position themselves as young people and thus influence in the development of public policy and programs. The project is kept afloat despite there not being any regional funding to date. Countries are currently in the process of consolidating national collectives, preparing studies and incidence projects and prepare publications of their works. The youth collective came together given the development of youth products derived from youth research grant assignations that paved the way for a regional and national analysis of the conditions that youth finds itself, deriving into proposals and intervention. They have also worked with national workshops for debating and knowledge-building. The scope was widened considerably with a permanent activity from the web page www.colectivojuventud.org and with products for youth, plus the Latin American Youth Congress:”Youth in Knowledge” (“Jóvenes en el Saber”). Young people build knowledge geared towards intervention in the advancement of youth and their societies, providing policy support and the communication of problems through innovative means, such as audiovisual ones. They tend towards teamwork and economic gain is not foremost, preferring to distribute funding among peers and have by their side those willing to participate in the work. They are excellent communicators of their standpoints and findings. Knowledge empowers them and facilitates a positive communication and intergenerational projection. Some grant holder responses to the follow up are given as follows: To date and thanks to the FLACSO project we work regularly with young people in kichwa Indian communities in the Bobonaza river basin in the Ecuador Amazon. The work revolves around strengthening organization through training workshops held with young people in environmental issues, leadership, cosmovision, identity, etc. Relationships with these organizations are excellent. Andrés Tapia, Grant holder from Ecuador

The Project was funded by the Kellog Foundation and is directed by the Chilean Seat of the Latin American School of Social Sciences (FLACSO). FLACSO is an international, intergovernmental academic

institution created in Chile in 1957, with the support from democratic countries in the promotion of high-level research and education in the social sciences In the countries of the region, contributing to their democratic development in a context where the presence of a high number of authoritarian regimes affected the social sciences. More than 50 years later the political situation has changed and now FLACSO has 12 seats throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.


Research results were shared with the person responsible in the Municipal Youth Institute in Puebla, we got together in January and has asked me to work ad honorem with them, something like an external consultant in youth and employment issues. A week ago I sent the report to the Assistant Director for Secondary Public Education of the Nation, aiming to inform the project set to support entrepreneurial initiatives which is hoped to start in May. This program aims to support through training and economic aid packages any initiatives from middle education students. Lorena García, Grant holder from México In the government sphere, the “Intersector committee on Youth of the Pernanbuco State Government” and the “Special Secretariat on youth and employment” have asked for information on the research made and we have provided it in secretarial seminars. I also participate in a study project regarding the Pernanbuco State budget and the incidence of youth participation on budget planning. This program will fund my studies in the "École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales", in Paris, in the Sociology Master during 2009-2010. Marcillo Brandao, Grant holder from Brazil I participated in the production of a documentary on the experience people have had regarding environmental management. The documentary won a national prize and has been shown in England . Rejane Fontes Da Silva, Grant holder form Brazil This work with the youth is required in order to shed light into it, acknowledge its capacities and so have an active citizenry. The model of young people study the young has been replicated in El Salvador by the institutionalized organs dealing with youth, stimulating further research, while in FLACSO-Argentina there is a postgraduate program “Young women in the knowledge/information society”: the young studying youth. 5. Final Comments: Youth is a sector of the population having certain conditions and needs requiring further strengthening of their participation levels and incidence in society and in the public debate on youth issues. Youth policies also need participation so that there be a permanent enrichment in improvement and renewal processes that may keep these up-to-date. Social participation scenarios that involve decision-making instances regarding personal, peer and local growth alternatives are required to generate further democratic strengthening of society.

12 Hecmilio Galván14, a grant holder from the Latin American Youth Collective in the Dominican Republic points out that his research reveals that these goals face leadership problems, that there is a monolithic State culture, unawareness or lack of any existing youth laws, a weakness in the strategic design that articulates various actors together, a deficient synergy among managers and initiatives, lack of suitably qualified human resources, scarce institutional budgeting with few budgets geared towards the young, non-existing youth participation policies and a lack of political will-power. These being the problems receiving the most mentions among his research respondents. The progress identified by Young researchers from the Collective evidence that there are two routes that open up from the government perspective, regarding youth participation. The institutionalist route exposed by Peru, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, which has privileged the elaboration of designs that aspire towards integrating different levels and political players in youth issues This route exposes that the spaces created for participation are an end in themselves and its main strength, ensuring an institutional existence, which is dependant on the political capital accrued. The second route, seen as dominant in Brazil, is more management based, which aims to improve participation in the design and implementation of public policy more so than in the participation space itself. These spaces are seen as means to make political progress, its main strength, that of making the policy in tune with citizenry, runs risks when its resolution are nonbinding. We have highlighted perspectives and practices regarding youth political participation in public spaces and the formulation of local policies, programs and budgets, where the citizen contribution by young people is specially important. We have acknowledged the value of youth participation in the construction of youth knowledge that may affect politics and social development. It is important to acknowledge that part of the route has already been covered, there being ample knowledge, practice and supplies available to strengthen capacity and spaces for young people and their youth organizations to have an affect on, through the use of citizen participation, their own development and that of their societies.

Annex: Grant application proposals for the Latin American Collective, per research area


Hecmilio Galván, Elaboración de una propuesta participativa de implementación de la Ley General De Juventud de la República Dominicana..Investigación Colectivo Latinoamericano de Jóvenes.2008 www.colectivojuventus.org (proyectos ganadores)


Área Youth and culture Youth, politics and citizenry Social Participation of youth Youth and sexuality Youth and identity Youth in situations of marginality and poverty Youth and education Youth in the working world Rural youth Indigeneous and ethnic youth populations Youth and environment Youth policies Youth and migration Youth and development Urban youth Youth and health Youth and gender Youth and violence Youth and family Intergenerational relationships Technology in the youth Youth in conflict with the law Youth in war Youth and means of communication

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