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Participation Biographies: Routes and relevancies of young people’s participation

Journal article
Authors Grainne McMahon
Susanne Liljeholm Hansson
Larissa von Schwanenflügel
Jessica Lütgens
Published in Diskurs Jugend- und Kindheitsforschung
ISSN 1862-5002
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Social Work
Language en
Keywords Biography, biographical research, participation biography, participation, youth
Subject categories Social welfare/social pedagogics, Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified


Starting from a critical perspective of the dominant participation discourse which draws on a narrow and institutionalised concept of participation to ascribe young people a lack of interest in participation, this article focusses on the participation biographies of young people in European countries. The analysis reveals that participatory activities emerge differently where they become biographically meaningful. They can be expressions of the search for recognition and for feelings of self-efficacy, of coping with biographical challenges as well as with experiences in institutional contexts and of how young people position themselves between youth and adults. Thus, this article underscores that participation is not just a question of formal information but one of responses to and experiences of societal recognition.

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