The apparent gap between young Europeans and EU Institutions has proved challenging in both policy and practitioner communities, each of whom have worked hard to improve dialogue, in order to improve young people’s experience of EU Institutions and, in tandem their active engagement in EU issues. This cannot be accomplished, however, without a mutual commitment on the part of EU institutions to listen to and respect the voices and views of a diverse cross section of young people. Including young people’s perspectives policy making and democratic practice is essential to ensuring the resilience of participatory and representative democracy.
Through the joint contribution of different disciplines (Psychology, Political Science, Sociology, Media and Communications, History and Education) CATCH-EyoU aims to identify the factors, located at different levels (psychological, economic, political, social and contextual) which have been deemed to influence different forms of youth active engagement in Europe. Through a range of studies, literature reviews, ethnographic work with active citizens, qualitative interviews, quantitative surveys, and an active citizenship intervention in schools, the project will provide a multifaceted understanding of the different factors influencing the perspectives of young people on local and national civic life, democracy, and Europe, and of the ways in which young people engage in society.
At one level this offers policy makers new instruments and “conceptual lenses” to better understand contemporary young people, how they approach public authorities, and how they engage materially and symbolically in order to participate in the construction of the societies they inhabit and shape the governmental regimes under which they live. At another level this analysis will reveal the gaps and flaws as well as the strengths in previous international studies of active citizenship and youth, emphasizing the varieties of interests that have been served by keeping alive particular conceptualisations of young people and of citizenship, and ignoring or delegitimizing others. The project’s aim is to scaffold new understandings which will help to bring the European Union closer to all its citizens, and to democratic ideals, not only the young.
Project website: www.catcheyou.eu