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positive and independent youth policy. m ultilateral peer learning seminar , Rotterdam 29 & 30 October 2012. Prof.em . Dr. Richard Münchmeier Freie Universität Berlin. t rain of thought. t he red thread. t he crucial p oint of the EU-strategy: how to put the concept into practice

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positive and independent

youth policy

multilateral peerlearningseminar, Rotterdam 29 & 30 October 2012

Prof.em. Dr. Richard Münchmeier

Freie Universität Berlin

t rain of thought

train of thought


the crucial point of the EU-strategy: how to put the concept into practice

a few remarks to recall: why do we need a positive and independent youth policy?

growing up in a changing world

democracy requires participation

fundamental debate: personal rights vs. protection and care

a glimpse into history

two opposing concepts of youth

types of youth policy

based upon clear responsibility (sectorial)

mainstreaming of youth issues into other policies (cross-sectorial)

future-oriented (inter-generational)

participation and empowerment

1 the crucial point implementation
1. the crucial point: implementation
  • after years of discussion there is a new

approach in youth policy upon European,

national and regional level

  • the new key term is: “positive” and “independent” youth policy
  • this phrase could be misleading and misunderstandable
  • we need to reconsider what there are the essentialbasic principles:
    • from problem group approach to policy for the entire youth
    • cross-sectorial (inter-sectorial)
    • focus upon best start chances (education, employment, health and well-being, inclusion and collaboration)
    • empowerment, activation and participation
  • the crucial point: to make the principles work in the practice of national and local governments as well as in the fields of practical youth work, local democracy and civil society
prof thomas rauschenbach director of the german youth institute dji
Prof. Thomas Rauschenbach, DirectoroftheGerman Youth Institute (DJI)

„An independent youth policy, which earns this

appellation, is upon international, national and local

level practically not to observe, is in any case very

silent and reluctant…

The new youth policy approach is up to now still in the status of preparation and conceptualisation and until now characterised by a surplus of programmatic, rhetoric and symbolic debates…

What we urgently need is an ‘empiricism of youth policy’ (research about the needs, the measures, the outcome, and the efficiency of youth politics)…”

Rauschenbach et al. 2010, S. 234)


2.a. growing up in a changing world

  • the young population is one of the most vulnerable groups in society. the financial crisis has a strong impact on young people
  • 20% of young people (under 24) in the EU live at risk of poverty
  • youth unemployment (age 15-24)

is consistently more than double

that of the total population

  • young people who are neither in

employment, education or training

(NEET) grew from less than 11 %

(2008) to more than 13 % at the

beginning of 2012

(EU Youth Report 2012; OECD: Education at a Glance, 2012)

2 b democracy requires participation
2.b. democracy requires participation
  • recent youth studies show: European youth is not anxious or depressed
  • a clear change in youth’s attitudes towards politics; they distrust the common routines and procedures
  • they want no longer to be merely clients of a caring and protecting youth policy
  • they want to be active and creative, independent and self-efficient, and partners of a supporting, enabling and empowering policy especially in the local context

(cf. German Youth Institute: Youth survey 2010; 16th Shell Youth Study 2010; EU Youth Report 2012)


expierienced possibilities for participation in different places
















source: Fatke 2005: surveywith 12.084 youth 12 – 18 in 42 communities in Germany

3 history fundamental debate
3. History: fundamental debate:

social rights vs. protection and care ?

  • Paul Felisch and others (1909/1917) claim social rights for youth (entitlements towards society), right to healthy life conditions and support; youth policy should be cross-sectorial; juveniles should be subjects and not objects of the new youth law to be established
  • welfare-organisations, youth workers (e.g. German Centre of Youth Welfare) and a lot of others object to that (1910, 1918, 1921): not social rights for youth but regulation and judicial sanctioning of youth social work; consolidation of the public interventions for youth welfare; claiming local youth welfare offices
3 b two opposing concepts of youth
3.b. two opposing concepts of youth

youth is understood as hope-bearer

  • social change and progress by the change of generations (S.N. Eisenstadt)
  • youth as critical corrective: innovation potential
  • youth as „social movement“ and protagonist group

goals of youth policy

  • more autonomy for youth
  • more emancipation
  • more participation
  • „own rights and titles“

youth policy aims for support of self-organisation/ activation/ empowerment

 structural funding: creating and establishing empowering infrastructures

youth is understood as risk group

  • youth is at risk/ potentially deviant (E. Durkheim)
  • youth is „dependent“, needs education and guidance
  • youth is a transition group into adulthood and “normal life”

goals of youth policy

  • protection against risks
  • integration of problem groups
  • protected places
  • compensatory programs

youth policy is more or less youth social work/ a mix of control, regulation and training facilities

 program based funding: bound to predefined programs

4 types of youth policy
4. Types of Youth Policy
  • sectorial policy

based on the judicial-institutional responsibilities of the portfolio

comprises only a small number of issues and conditions of youth life

  • cross sectorial policy
    • mainstreaming of youth issues into other policies

seeks to advocate juvenile interests und needs (strategy of “interference”)

  • inter-generational policy

deals with conflicts of interests between the generations

seeks a balance of interests and inter-generational justice

  • future policy
    • tries to consolidate and strengthen the integrative potentials of the social and economic base structures
    • evaluates the future suitability of present ways of life and styles of consumption
  • participation and activation

includes youth as political actor and change resource


our aims

„we want that all humans can carry their lives as much as possible free from the costs of past generations in self-determination. We want to preserve achievements and culture of past and present generations, without to waive progress or to destroy nature. For us it is a human right for the young and all future generations that the freedom of shaping their own personal and political matters must not be limited by avoidable burdens and consequences of contemporary decisions.”

5 participation and empowerment
5. Participation and Empowerment
  • French student poster
  • "I participate, you participate, he participates, we participate, you participate...they profit."

consultative participation

  • children and juveniles are consulted as „experts in their own matters“ in order to contribute in a “hearing” to the improvement of laws, political plans and projects or international contracts
  • chracteristics:
  • initiated by adults
  • managed by adults
  • youth are heard and get the possibility for meetings with peers to build an interest group, they can acquire various competencies and skills
  • but they have no control over the results of the hearings and the implementation of concrete measures

democratic participation

  • children and juveniles are included aiming at possibilities to experience democratic procedures, opportunities to exercise democratic principles and to cooperate in the development of political concepts and measures concerning their own issues
  • characteristics:
  • initiated by adults
  • cooperation with youth (not only hearings)
  • electoral and voting procedures are laboratories of a democratic life form
  • youth can have an influence on the target course and organisation of measures
  • youth can call the decisions into question even though they are not part of the deciders

direct participation

  • children and juveniles are directly and formal consulted in political decisions;
  • they have the opportunity to identify their own goals and initiatives and to put them on the agenda
  • characteristics:
  • the arguments and interests of youth are included into the structures and procedures of political decision making
  • electoral procedures serve as democratic legitimation
  • the role of adults is centred upon assistance and encouragement in the background
  • procedures and outcomes are under control of youth