Children, Youth and Environments
Vol. 16 No. 2 ( 2006)
Polarizing Participation in Local Government:
Which Young People Are Included and Excluded?
University of Otago, New Zealand
Citation: Nairn, Karen, Judith Sligo and Claire Freeman (2006). "Polarizing Participation in Local Government: Which Young People Are Included and Excluded?
." Children, Youth and Environments 16 (2): 253-276. Retrieved [date] from http://www.colorado.edu/journals/cye/
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In recent years in New Zealand, international and national imperatives have prompted local government authorities to find ways to consult children and young people. We analyze the workings of selected participation initiatives in one urban and one rural setting in New Zealand and argue that young people’s inclusion in local government processes depended on adult organizers’ perceptions of who should be “targeted.” We show how two “types” of young people, “achievers” and “troublemakers,” were often “targeted.” If local government in effect focuses only on those young people from opposite ends of the continuum, we argue they are reproducing a polarized representation of young people and excluding the participation of “ordinary” young people; we describe this group as “the excluded middle.” We conclude with some suggestions for adults who are interested in the ongoing challenges of developing relevant ways of working with youth, based on insights from our two case studies.
Keywords: young people, local government, inclusion, exclusion, participation, target groups