Children, Youth and Environments
Vol. 16 No. 2 ( 2006)
From Consultation to Social Learning in Community Participation with Young People
When limited to consultation, participation, does not address deep-rooted problems concerning young people’s use of neighborhood space. Many initiatives to involve young people give little attention to issues of conflict, power and diversity in neighborhood development. Building cohesive communities with high levels of social capital that acknowledge young people as “legitimate” shared users of space, requires more elaborate approaches. The paper argues for the creation of spaces where adults and young people can come together in dialogue, reflection and social learning in communities as well as wider decision-making processes. Drawing on principles of action research and participatory inquiry, the paper elaborates a dialogical “social learning” model of participation using an example from work in community health planning. This approach can support young people’s participation in community development and local decision-making processes.