The Construction of Agency in Practice
Edited by Göran Sundström, Linda Soneryd and Staffan Furusten
Chapter 2: Organizing Participation. Establishing a Discourse of Local Democratic Governance for Young People in Sweden
Adrienne Sörbom Swedish youth policy was gradually established as a policy area over the three decades between the early 1980s and the first decade of the 21st century. During this time democracy and inclusion were incorporated as core concepts within the area. In this chapter this process is traced over time. The starting point is that this policy area, and the interest that the area holds for municipal democracy, can be understood as an expression of the general trend towards an increase in local governance. I propose that youth policy in Sweden paved the way for new forms of political governance, primarily at the local, municipal level.1 First and foremost, this development occurred through the use and promotion of local user councils, youth councils and other similar organizational forms. Common to them all is their deliberative character; they are supposed to function as open arenas for young people to enter and partake of municipal politics through communication (cf. Bohman, 1996), free from party politics. Thus both user and youth councils exist on the border between representative democracy and civil society. The main purpose of this chapter is to analyse the process by which the discourse on young people and democracy within Swedish youth policy was established and took its organizational shape.2 How did youth and democracy become a field of political intervention? And how are these two areas related to the tendency towards increasing governance? My assumption is that by answering questions such as these empirically, we may gain...
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