When focussing on concepts such as youth, participation and local policies in Italy, some key aspects need to be underlined in order to provide a common conceptual framework. The first aspect relates to the problem of defining youth and the related expressions of ‘youth policies’ and ‘youth participation’. Italian literature has recently adopted the term young adult to denote people between the ages of 30 and 34; nevertheless a young adult can be female, male, student, professional, unemployed, single, married, a parent, live with parents and so forth. At policy level the intrinsic differentiation characterising ‘planet youth’ is still based on the traditional distinction among ‘children’, ‘adolescents’ and ‘youth’, that implies both different disciplines and different professional skills and policy fields. The second aspect is related to the structure of the Italian welfare system, characterized since the very beginning of the republican period through two core interrelated features that influence the entire policy scenario: the breadwinner model, on the one side, and on the other side the weak stateness of the social protection regime, traditionally centred on the individual-family couple (Sgritta, 2005b). According to Saraceno and Keck (2010), familism relies on a permanent trust on the family, on its intergenerational solidarity and on its gender structure as provider of work and assistance. This model makes the social chances of mobility and autonomy of young people dependant on the labour market position of the breadwinner, the social status of enlarged family and the socio-economic context of birth and life. The third aspect refers to territorial dimension and consequential policy scaling. In Italy there is a high percentage of towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants, representing about 70% out of 8,000 urban areas and home to approximately 17% of the total population. It has to be stressed that in referring to this territorial dimension, young people’s conditions concern mainly but not only cities (in Italy about 45% of the population lives in highly urbanized towns). Beyond the traditional North-South educational, labour market and social participation divide, ongoing factors of differentiation affecting urban/rural, industrial/agricultural, mountain/coast dimensions confirm the importance of socio-economic context and ‘local societies’. Moving from this contextual framework, three main questions inform our reflections: 1) what forms of participation and intervention opportunities are offered to youth in a country characterised by a deeply focussed familialistic welfare regime; 2) to what extent do youth participation policies counteract the influence of this familialistic structure? And, in particular 3), to what extent does the local dimension hold the capacity and resources to combat and reduce the inequalities inherent to this dimension? In particular, in the first paragraph we present the analysis of the ambiguous relationship, existing in Italy between youth, participation and politics. In the second paragraph we propose a critical excursus of Italian local youth policies, which are currently attempting to overcome the compensative approach of the Seventies and the Eighties in favour of proactive and participatory methods. In the third paragraph we analyze individual youth participation within the context of a familistic grounding of social policy. We conclude highlighting the large hiatus still existing between the rhetoric of the institutional principles and the real praxis of the Italian youth policies, which very often continue to be limited to cultural practices, neglecting the need for a redistributive approach.

Youth Participation in the framework of the reformulation of local youth policy in Italy

CUCONATO, MORENA;DE LUIGI, NICOLA;MARTELLI, ALESSANDRO
2012

Abstract

When focussing on concepts such as youth, participation and local policies in Italy, some key aspects need to be underlined in order to provide a common conceptual framework. The first aspect relates to the problem of defining youth and the related expressions of ‘youth policies’ and ‘youth participation’. Italian literature has recently adopted the term young adult to denote people between the ages of 30 and 34; nevertheless a young adult can be female, male, student, professional, unemployed, single, married, a parent, live with parents and so forth. At policy level the intrinsic differentiation characterising ‘planet youth’ is still based on the traditional distinction among ‘children’, ‘adolescents’ and ‘youth’, that implies both different disciplines and different professional skills and policy fields. The second aspect is related to the structure of the Italian welfare system, characterized since the very beginning of the republican period through two core interrelated features that influence the entire policy scenario: the breadwinner model, on the one side, and on the other side the weak stateness of the social protection regime, traditionally centred on the individual-family couple (Sgritta, 2005b). According to Saraceno and Keck (2010), familism relies on a permanent trust on the family, on its intergenerational solidarity and on its gender structure as provider of work and assistance. This model makes the social chances of mobility and autonomy of young people dependant on the labour market position of the breadwinner, the social status of enlarged family and the socio-economic context of birth and life. The third aspect refers to territorial dimension and consequential policy scaling. In Italy there is a high percentage of towns with less than 5,000 inhabitants, representing about 70% out of 8,000 urban areas and home to approximately 17% of the total population. It has to be stressed that in referring to this territorial dimension, young people’s conditions concern mainly but not only cities (in Italy about 45% of the population lives in highly urbanized towns). Beyond the traditional North-South educational, labour market and social participation divide, ongoing factors of differentiation affecting urban/rural, industrial/agricultural, mountain/coast dimensions confirm the importance of socio-economic context and ‘local societies’. Moving from this contextual framework, three main questions inform our reflections: 1) what forms of participation and intervention opportunities are offered to youth in a country characterised by a deeply focussed familialistic welfare regime; 2) to what extent do youth participation policies counteract the influence of this familialistic structure? And, in particular 3), to what extent does the local dimension hold the capacity and resources to combat and reduce the inequalities inherent to this dimension? In particular, in the first paragraph we present the analysis of the ambiguous relationship, existing in Italy between youth, participation and politics. In the second paragraph we propose a critical excursus of Italian local youth policies, which are currently attempting to overcome the compensative approach of the Seventies and the Eighties in favour of proactive and participatory methods. In the third paragraph we analyze individual youth participation within the context of a familistic grounding of social policy. We conclude highlighting the large hiatus still existing between the rhetoric of the institutional principles and the real praxis of the Italian youth policies, which very often continue to be limited to cultural practices, neglecting the need for a redistributive approach.
Youth Participation in Europe. Beyond discourses, practices and realities
93
108
Cuconato M.; De Luigi N.; Martelli A.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/122520
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