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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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Conclusions: Mixed signs of transformation between neglect and appreciation (Anne-Marie Gehrke, Simon Güntner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Jill Robinson)


Anne-Marie Gehrke, Simon Güntner, Louis Henri Seukwa, Jill Robinson

Conclusions: Mixed signs of transformation between neglect and appreciation

1. Introduction

Our analysis was guided by an interest in the role of neighbourhoods and the social infrastructure in place in producing, mitigating or counteracting social exclusion of young people. The case studies show that for various reasons such a broad and complex matter is difficult to assess. As our research was selective, so have to be our conclusions: we neither looked inside schools nor inside homes, but concentrated on public places and youth and leisure centres. For these realms, it seems, times are not favourable. In many instances, the state has either withdrawn or is reshaping services to fit into work-first agendas. We found relics of past and different times, now abandoned or in bad shape, alongside newly established sites that speak the language of employability and career planning. We spoke to enthusiastic staff and young people juggling creatively with scarce resources, but also to many frustrated people bemoaning better times. And we saw activities outside mainstream paths, new forms of communing and revaluing neglected spaces.

In these conclusions, we try to sum up and bring some order to the manifold impressions from this journey. The case studies reveal in which condition neighbourhoods and local social infrastructure were at the time of the research in 2013/2014, and how these conditions had been produced over time.1 Configurations of attributes were identified that seem...

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