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Local Matters

How neighbourhoods and services affect the social inclusion and exclusion of young people in European cities

Edited By Simon Güntner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Anne Marie Gehrke and Jill Robinson

Where young people grow up makes a decisive difference to their life chances. Drawing on case studies from ten European cities, this book looks at how the local environment and the services available for young people affect their socialization. What comes to the fore are the local matters. On the one hand, there are experiences of discrimination and marginalization due to distance and isolation, decay and neglect but also related to piecemeal and top-down approaches to youth and social services. On the other, we find signs of positive transformation and drivers of social innovation: community building projects, the revitalization of abandoned places, appreciative approaches to servicing and a whole array of tactics that young people deploy to overcome their daily struggles.

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Local Matters - the significance of neighbourhoods and social infrastructure for the social inclusion of young people in European cities (Simon Güntner / Louis Henri Seukwa)

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Simon Güntner and Louis Henri Seukwa

Local Matters – the significance of neighbourhoods and social infrastructure for the social inclusion of young people in European cities

1. Introduction

Does it make a difference to the life chances and social inclusion of a young person, in which neighbourhood of a European city she or he lives and which public services are provided there? We presume that, yes, place and infrastructure do matter and that there is a power in the locality that mediates and shapes such manifestations. Poorly equipped and isolated neighbourhoods can amplify experiences of inequality as can discriminatory service delivery. Well-equipped and accessible neighbourhoods on the other hand can be important resources to cope with deprivation and even escape poverty; empowering services can be a decisive factor of social inclusion.

Thus, the basic assumption of this book is that the social and physical environment plays a crucial role in the life trajectories of young people. In ten European cities, we looked at how the neighbourhoods in which young people grow up and the social infrastructure available to them influence the ways in which they lead their everyday lives and how they look into the future. This focus does not deny the importance of wider societal trends, e.g. the increasing social uncertainty related to financialisation and neoliberal policies more generally (see Stigendal 2018). And it also appreciates individual competences of young people to make their own choices even in tough circumstances (see...

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