Affirmative Governmentality and the Politics of Youth Inclusion: A Critical Analysis of Youth Voice and Engagement in Dominant Political Discourse in Ontario

By Bernard, Maria | Canadian Review of Social Policy, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Affirmative Governmentality and the Politics of Youth Inclusion: A Critical Analysis of Youth Voice and Engagement in Dominant Political Discourse in Ontario


Bernard, Maria, Canadian Review of Social Policy


Introduction

While a robust literature tracks the ways in which racialized and marginalized youth are excluded from dominant spaces, little attention has been paid to the effects of policies and programs that invite them. This article addresses this issue by examining the discourses on youth voice and civic engagement that have proliferated in recent years in various parts of the world. The saliency of children and youth participation discourse can be attributed to key global influences, such as Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that focuses on a child's right to be heard on issues related to them (UN, 1999), as well as "the sociology of childhood's emphasis on children as agentic beings" (Raby, 2014, p.77). Youth participation discourses, such as Positive Youth Development (PYD), involve a move away from deficit-based youth development models to an asset- and outcome-based model. The increase of youth participation discourse and the often well-intended youth policies and programs that have ensued, have ushered in a growing trend to include youth in varying degrees in public and non-profit institutional and decision-making spaces. The people most targeted for these programs are youth between the ages of 15 and 24, and it is this age group that is the focus of this paper. O'Toole (2003) states that there is only a rudimentary understanding of how young people perceive participation and civic engagement and that an adult-centered understanding dominates these spaces. This often results in disrespectful and tokenistic methods of youth inclusion that alienate and deter adult civic engagement. This article asserts that meaningful youth inclusion and participation requires the questioning of normative constructs of youth, acknowledging the structural oppressions experienced by young people, and working with youth to understand their own notions of participation.

Many of the studies on youth voice and participation focus on the UK, Australia and the US, although a recent few focus on the Canadian context (Kennelly, 2011, Janes, 2014). The critical literature tends to argue that the dominant discourse within institutionalized youth participation spaces is an illusion constructed by the powerful adult actors within these spaces institutionalized forms of youth participation (Bartos, 2012; Bessant, 2003; Sutton, 2007). According to this literature, these spaces function in highly tokenistic terms but are celebrated through neoliberal narratives on youth voice, empowerment, and participation that tend to eclipse deeper examinations of youth social exclusions and inclusions (Bessant, 2003; Kwon, 2013). Words such as, "youth voice" and "decision making" are problematized and other taken-forgranted concepts are deconstructed to unearth their underlying discourses and their role in governing particular conducts (Bragg, 2007; Kennelly, 2011; Raby, 2014; Tait, 1995). This article adds to the emerging critical scholarship on youth voice and participation in Canada by providing a distinctive focus on the participation of racialized youth. While the paper focuses on one particular government document, the analysis presented here is applicable to various public institutional settings that endeavour to include youth and other marginalized communities.

The next section of the paper presents a brief background to help situate the participation discourses within Ontario's youth strategic framework. The paper then turns to a discussion of the theoretical framework utilized for this research. This is followed by a brief examination of Ontario's current youth strategic framework, Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed (2013). Anecdotal evidence of youth experiences of institutional spaces of participation is also shared using my over seven years of experience working in Toronto with racialized youth from marginalized communities.

Situating participation discourses within Ontario's youth strategic framework

In keeping with the principles of the UNCRC, there has been a slow shift in youth development philosophies from a deficit-based approach that focuses on youth needs, to an assetbased one that focuses on building the positive attributes of youth to help them reach adulthood. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Affirmative Governmentality and the Politics of Youth Inclusion: A Critical Analysis of Youth Voice and Engagement in Dominant Political Discourse in Ontario
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.