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Youth participation in EuropeBeyond discourses, practices and realities$
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Patricia Loncle, Gerrit Jackson, and Virginie Muniglia

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781447300182

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447300182.001.0001

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Youth participation: strong discourses, weak policies – a general perspective

Youth participation: strong discourses, weak policies – a general perspective

(p.20) (p.21) 2 Youth participation: strong discourses, weak policies – a general perspective
Youth participation in Europe

Patricia Loncle

Pat Leahy

Virginie Muniglia

Andreas Walther

Policy Press

Despite the many efforts of the European institutions to orientate in favour of youth policies, despite their attempts to designate priorities and to organise decisions in a comprehensive way, youth policies, at least in national arenas, seem to remain weak, fragmented and poorly funded. Our hypothesis is that a deep hiatus exists between the multiplicities of political discourses on youth on the one hand and the weakness of youth policies on the other hand. One might say that the emphasis on youth participation actually reflects the weakness of youth policies and the lack of strong political will and strategy regarding youth; participation takes the place of political aims and strategies. The discourse on youth participation implies that policy contents are actually being replaced by policy procedures. One explanation for this discrepancy is that youth policies belong at least partly to the category of symbolic public policy. To develop our argument, we first concentrate on the difficulties inherent in defining youth policies and then examine the various fragilities of youth policies at all stages of the decision making process.

Keywords:   Symbolic public policy, definition, local level, decision making process

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