Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


CMCG — Result In Brief

Project ID: 661541
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.
Country: Ireland
Domain: Society

Civic and political engagement – a must for urban youth

Disadvantaged youth in cities often experience marginalisation. Engaging them rather than treating them as potential threats can help avoid negative consequences of their situations for their own benefit and that of their communities.
Civic and political engagement – a must for urban youth
Research and outcomes of the EU-funded project CMCG support more constructive civic and political life, especially for marginalised youth. “This study provides a framework and a set of data from which further European and global studies can be developed,” notes Professor Caroline McGregor, project coordinator.

Carried out in Belfast, Dublin and London, CMCG explored key ideas and rationales behind promoting youth civic and political engagement. The team conducted policy reviews, stakeholder consultations and an inventory of youth-serving organisations in each of the three cities. They carried out a total of 66 key informant interviews with policymakers, public officials, and practitioners working as youth activists or volunteers in youth organisations. A last research component involved 28 focus groups with young people (14-25 years old) across the 3 cities.

The facts of the matter

The research highlights the range of themes to be considered regarding youth engagement as well as the related range of issues that are common across the globe. Project work revealed various discrepancies between policy and practice, but also showed how policy frameworks at national and supranational levels are reflected in and advanced by practice on the ground. It brought to light many examples of excellent practices of youth engagement that can inform related developments.

“Research demonstrated how strongly context influences the potential for, and barriers to, the civic and political engagement of marginalised youth,” the professor states. Further, CMCG findings highlight how different interventions can best be delivered. These take into account young people’s diverse social, economic and political circumstances, especially regarding rapidly changing urban contexts.

The main implications of CMCG work relate to how policy and practice is developed in relation to urban youth engagement. As such, Prof. McGregor says, “the project’s most important development has been to produce detailed policy and research reports to inform practice policy and future research.” These are available through the project web page on the website of the National University of Ireland, Galway – the project’s coordinating institution.

Now the way forward is defined

Policy recommendations cover four main areas, the first of which has to do with broadening outreach work. For example, more support is needed for youth workers in informal spaces where vulnerable and marginalised young people are to be found.

Furthermore, Prof. McGregor underlines the need for participation and youth engagement to be normalised. “We suggest there is a need for a fundamental review and reorientation to citizenship education in schools, increased support for the work of community and youth organisations, and the expansion of collaboration between schools and youth and voluntary organisations.”

Actions also need to be taken to better align ideology and practice across various strategies and contexts (e.g. in education) as well as between services and social actions targeting civic engagement (e.g. youth clubs).

Finally, there is a need to address structural inequalities that present a barrier to youth engagement, including discriminatory practices that have become daily fare. Recommended actions include equitable distribution of resources, access to high-quality education, and opportunities for social and economic mobility.

A brighter tomorrow for the youth of today

More information on project work and outcomes is presented in two UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre reports. These are available on the project website, as is the ‘UNESCO Policy Brief on Youth Civic Engagement’.

Project results will be disseminated and exploited in a wide range of activities, allowing for broad web and physical presence as well as maximum impact in related stakeholder communities.

Engagement in the project itself contributed to the professional development of CMCG’s lead researcher and fellow Prof. Robert Chaskin, who during its course was appointed UNESCO Chair in Inclusive Urbanism at the University of Chicago. This will support and ensure continued research and impact in the field of urban youth studies and critical reforms to youth policy.


CMCG, youth engagement, civic and political engagement, marginalised youth, citizenship education
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