youth citizenship and the big society after england s riots n.
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Youth Citizenship and the Big Society after England’s riots . Who were the rioters?. ‘THUGS held in the August riots were part of a feckless criminal underclass — with one in eight on DISABILITY benefits ( The Sun , 25 th October 2011) 'Too sick to work' but not too

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who were the rioters
Who were the rioters?

‘THUGS held in the August riots

were part of a feckless criminal

underclass — with one in eight

on DISABILITY benefits (The

Sun, 25th October 2011)

'Too sick to work' but not too

sick to riot’ (Daily Mail, 25th

October 2011)

  • 26% aged 10-17 years-old and 27% 18-20 (5% <40)
  • > 1 in 10 gang members ‘generally did not play a pivotal role’
  • Two-fifths of young people appearing in court receiving free school meals
  • Almost two-thirds of young people have special education needs
  • Two-thirds of young people from most deprived areas (3% from least deprived areas)
the politics of the english riots
The Politics of the English Riots
  • Riots were not about poverty or government cuts - ‘pure criminality’
  • A product of decades of rights-based social liberalism, mindless selfishness and irresponsibility
  • ‘Slow-motion moral collapse‘ due to poor parenting, broken families and lack of discipline in schools which had undermined social values and morality
the politics of the riots
The Politics of the Riots
  • Causes more complex: persistent social inequality and rising youth unemployment, government spending cuts, increases in University tuition fees and the removal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA)
  • An ‘inconvenient truth’ that politicians, business and media elites also guilty of irresponsibility, creating a ‘values crisis’
motivations for the riots
Motivations for the riots

the riots were not ‘a genuine outlet of political angst’

the riots not a form of ‘legitimate political protest’ - ‘looters not rioters’ infused with a selfishness driven by an ‘age of rampant consumerism’

  • ‘the riots were not about young people taking taking to the streets in a great big uprising’
the disempowered generation
The Disempowered Generation?
  • Gary Younge (2011) emphasis on criminality has allowed politicians to overlook ‘the political nature of what took place’
  • Laurie Penny (2011) ‘violence is rarely mindless’ and many of those rioting seeking political recognition
  • Harriet Harman (2011) ‘there is a sense that young people feel they are not being listened to’
understanding youth citizenship
Understanding Youth Citizenship
  • Rights and responsibilities of citizenship typically understood as a synonym for ‘adulthood’
  • A number of influential reports concluded many young people feel uniquely isolated or even excluded from a self-serving political system
  • Youth-orientated policies often situate young people’s citizenship in future tense, are rarely consultative and often reflect adult interpretations of young citizens’ perceived needs
  • Adulthood defined by specified ‘ages of consent’ based on perceptions of vulnerability, competence and comprehension which lack consistency and highlight subjective perceptions of juvenilia and maturity
  • ‘Youth’ and ‘young’ applied in inconsistent and increasingly expansive way - transitions from youth to adulthood complex, plural, open-ended and fluid.
historical approaches to youth citizenship
Historical Approaches to Youth Citizenship
  • Party politics approaches framed by belief young people are ‘citizens in the making’ -
  • Youth citizenship an aspiration rather than reality – consistently overlooked by political parties
  • Different historical policy legacies predicated on shifting assumptions about age, dependency and juvenilia
  • Youth citizenship often framed by relative social, economic and cultural autonomy of young people from parents and ‘adult’ society as whole
  • Young people seen as having the potential to embrace or subvert established modes of citizenship – require training
young people and democratic participation
Young People and Democratic Participation
  • ‘Connection between young people and the democratic state is more fragile than in the rest of the electorate’ (Russell et al, 2002)
  • Decline in youth participation in democratic politics
    • Disengaged in politics versus engaged in new politics
    • Life cycle versus broken politics
  • Segregation of young people in party politics and unrepresentative political system
    • Differing political party approaches to youth membership
  • Introduction of citizenship education in 2002
  • Youth Citizenship Commission (2009) findings overlooked and ignored by most politicians
  • Prioritisation of ‘passive’ and apolitical active citizenship through volunteering etc
  • 2010 general election – lowering voting age
my great ambition is to build the big society
‘My great ambition is to build the ‘big society’

It was my father who started me thinking when I was young about the ‘big society’....where the leading force for progress is social responsibility not state control – where people ask ‘what are my responsibilities?’ not ‘what are my rights?’

understanding the big society
Understanding the Big Society
  • ‘The Big Society is about changing the way our country is run. No more of a government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions. Instead, let's treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives. That's why, in reality, this is quite different from what politicians have offered in the past’ (Cameron, Jan 2011)
  • ‘Young people will sow the seeds allowing the Big Society’ (Cameron, July 2010)
four principles for young people
Four Principles for Young People
  • ‘A positive and active role for young people’
  • Local communities need to get more involved with young people
  • Government will target the most vulnerable young people and focus on quality of outcomes
  • Government to try to achieve ‘a greater diversity of service providers to get the best value for money and support growth in the voluntary sector’
the big society in action
The Big Society in action
  • Big Society Bank will lead to ‘substantially more’ investment in youth sector
  • Neighbourhood grants to poorest areas
  • ‘Why shouldn’t a whole youth services department be run by a voluntary provider’ (Loughton, 2011)
  • Youth-impacted policies (free schools) and Positive for Youth
  • Internships
  • National Citizen Service (NCS)
    • ‘The National Citizen Service is an enormously powerful proposition to 16-year-olds’ (Hurd 2011)
    • ‘I pretty much bet you young people will come forward in huge numbers’ (Cameron, 2011)
building the big society
Building the Big Society
  • NCS will be introduced ‘to give young people a chance to develop the skills needed to be active and responsible citizens, mix with people from different backgrounds, and start getting involved in their communities’. (Cabinet Office 2010)
ncs a glimpse at what real life is like
NCS - ‘a glimpse at what real life is like’
  • Persistent theme of ‘Cameronism’ but uncertainty as to scope or purpose
  • NCS has variously been identified as:
    • ‘a kind of non-military national service’
    • Enhancing personal development – ‘fundamental life skills’ (Loughton 2011)
    • Opportunity for community service to encourage life-long volunteering
    • Anti-social behaviour
    • Community and social cohesion
    • National identity
    • Addressing youth unemployment
    • Transition to adulthood
    • Participative democratic citizen
public services on the cheap
Public Services on the cheap?
  • The opportunities for young people to get involved in volunteering in health and social care were boosted by the Government’s recent announcement of expanding the National citizen Service to 30,000 places.  This offers year 11 school children the chance to volunteer in their local community, during the summer vacation.
criticisms of ncs
Criticisms of NCS
  • Cost and impact on youth services funding
  • Link with existing (and proven) programmes
    • Diversion of funding
    • De-professionalisation of youth services
  • Top-down approach contradicts localism agenda
  • Short-termist – appropriate to address generational dysfunction and deprivation?
  • Disparate providers chasing funding? (Football clubs to The Challenge Network)
  • Anglocentric
  • Lack of evidentially-informed policy
    • German (Zivildienst) versus US approach
    • Strathclyde University study 2009
ncs initial results from 2011 pilot
NCS – initial results from 2011 pilot
  • Well-received by many taking part
  • Only 8,500 of 11,000 places taken
  • Age remit and duration flexible
  • 1 in 4 dropout in some areas
  • 59% Proportion of those who completed the whole programme/total places available
  • Length of residential element
  • Cost and age group?
i predict more riots
I predict more riots?
  • Response to riots and impact of cuts on young people
  • Cameron (2005) ‘I want young people to see politics not as a waste of time but as a way to change the world’
  • Big Society focus on civil rather than civic participation
  • Continued prioritisation of responsibilities over rights
  • Focus on organic rather than state-led understanding of youth citizenship
  • Young people expected to limit their claims to social rights enjoyed by previous generations
  • Expected to also fill in emergent gaps in public welfare provision left behind by a rapidly withdrawing state
    • No plans to reform political system or party politics
      • Votes at 16 off political radar