This study examines the fulfillment of disadvantaged youth's participation rights in collective decision making. It was conducted in participatory frameworks operating under the auspices of a municipality in Israel that implemented a national program aiming to improve the living conditions of children and at-risk youth. The qualitative research design was based on semi-structured interviews conducted with nine youth at risk, aged 16–18, who had participated in collective decision-making processes and with 10 adults who facilitated these participation processes or held senior administrative positions. The findings showed that disadvantaged youth's participation in collective decision making is encumbered by unique barriers relating to parents’ livelihood challenges, the absence of family support, difficulties in persevering and in complying with timetables, a derogatory attitude expressed by adults not involved in the facilitation process, and youth's apprehension regarding these attitudes. Factors surmounting these barriers included relational participation, allowing the participants a sense of belonging; adapted participation, based on flexibility and mediation; and counter participation, which stands as a positive alternative to being marginalized at school. The findings also showed that the influence of the youth's participation encompassed various collective and personal domains, including the ways it transformed the social construction of the youth. The conclusions are grounded in Foucault's writings on heterotopia (1967). This conceptualization highlights the dual role of the examined participation as an other space for the youth, which provided them with hegemonic cultural capital and narratives, but was also intertwined with their daily lives in their urban environment context.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Benny Benjamin for helpful comments, and the interviewees, for devoting us their time. We also thank the Israel Science Foundation (Grant 448/15 ) and the Amira and Michael Dan Foundation for financial support.
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Sociology and Political Science