Connecting participatory methods in a study of youth and risk.

This source preferred by Lee-Ann Fenge and Carrie Hodges

Authors: Cutts, W., Hodges, C.E.M. and Fenge, L.-A.

Start date: 6 September 2010

Concerns about youth behaviour and risk are central to current policy and practice. Reforms in children and young people’s services have included an emphasis on participation, youth action and youth-led services through a development of a citizenship curriculum in schools, youth councils and new youth funds (DfES, 2006). Recent policies such as Youth Matters (DfES, 2005) highlight the importance of inclusiveness, increased participation and influence of young people in building community capacity. However, there is a tension in approaches to youth engagement which emphasise a ‘top-down’ target driven approach, as opposed to a more ‘ground up’ approach to enable young people to influence youth based initiatives (Milbourne, 2009). It is therefore important to create new spaces in which marginalized young people who are often invisible within youth initiatives are encouraged to participate and have their voice heard.

This paper will explore the methodological issues of using participatory and performative means to create a more accessible and effective arena in which marginalised young people’s attitudes towards risk and safety are explored. It discusses a current project which aims to bring young people from diverse cultures together through links with a performative project in Barcelona, and local community groups in Bournemouth. The core aims are to find out whether young people’s attitudes to risk and safety are affected by what they hear or read in the media or by the prevailing opinion in their local community/culture. This includes an exploration of whether young people’s perceptions of powerlessness in their local community impact on their notions of risk and safety.

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