The politics of global youth participation

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This article critically examines increased opportunities for youth participation in global political affairs created by the United Nations and its member states in the 2010s. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and interviews at three global youth conferences, this study demonstrates the operationalization of participatory governance, a current mode of global politics, that seeks to engage multi-stakeholders in a seemingly more democratic and egalitarian process. It investigates how the structure and culture of participation mechanisms found in international political processes limited youth engagement. Young people expressed both dissatisfaction with what they perceived to be their inability to participate meaningfully and their desire to fulfill their human right to participation. The author argues that this reflects the construction an ideal global youth-citizen today as marked by an individual’s exercise of compulsory participation as a self-governing and responsible subject. Participation is employed as a mode of governance so that young people may instrumentally advance thier life chances against the insecurities of social risks imposed on them in the retreat of state provisions. The study underscores the need to critically examine the institutionalization of political youth agency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-940
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 9 2019


  • Youth participation
  • global citizenship
  • global conferences
  • participatory governance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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