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

Image is illustrative. Photo by Michael Zittel from Pexels

Based on other ethnographically informed studies, 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. It suggests 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. 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.