Empowering Young People in Disempowering Times
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Empowering Young People in Disempowering Times

Fighting Inequality Through Capability Oriented Policy

Edited by Hans-Uwe Otto, Valerie Egdell, Jean-Michel Bonvin and Roland Atzmüller

Following the 2008 economic crisis, the situation for young people deteriorated dramatically in many European countries. Employment and training opportunities have reduced, and levels of poverty and social exclusion have increased. This book evaluates both institutional frameworks and programmes as well as the quantitative and qualitative basis of judgements in European youth policies that dominate current strategies. This book evaluates both institutional frameworks and programmes as well as the quantitative and qualitative basis of judgements in European youth policies.
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Chapter 7: Participation and expectations: the Youth Guarantee in Italy – a comparison study in Lombardy and Campania

Giuseppe Acconcia and Paolo Roberto Graziano


The majority of the European countries experienced a turn towards activation policies during the last decades to increase employment rates of groups formerly excluded from the labour market (for example, disadvantaged youth). This target required more socially innovative processes to enhance the participation of stakeholders and young people in policymaking. This chapter aims at testing the hypothesis whether higher levels of young people’s participation in the policymaking process leads to an enhanced capability to aspire in reference to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee. In an explorative manner, the research hypothesis will be tested with reference to two most different cases of local activation policy in two Italian disadvantaged urban areas (Milan and Naples). Driving factors for the differential impact of participation on policy integration will be identified through the analysis of two in-depth case-studies. A neo-institutionalist process tracing method is used (semi-directive interviews and focus groups) in order to conduct our analysis. In this chapter, we will argue that social innovation can be produced by strengthened participation in policymaking processes and an enhanced capacity of the policy targets to define aspirations or to be able to aspire. Our case studies will show how limited capability to aspire and the integration of young people in policymaking has been produced in recent years with respect to youth employment. We will try to verify if this derives from the lack of participation of the young people (the targets) or from other institutional variables (administrative capacity, policy design, socio-economic conditions, and so on). The final section of the chapter will broaden the perspective and address what are the consequences of our findings on the more general question raised in terms of human development, where employment and social inclusion of the youth is particularly relevant.

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