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Not done and dusted: agency and structure in youth participation
conference contributionposted on 2014-02-03, 00:00 authored by Ros BlackRos Black
A growing body of education policy and practice purports to educate young people to become reflexive citizens with the capacity to direct their own lives as well as to ‘make a difference’ in ways that improve the democratic fabric of society. This reinforces a discourse of youth agency that obscures the structural inequalities that continue to centrally influence some young people’s lives and to play themselves out in complex ways within schools. This paper discusses the findings of a recent study that employs concepts of risk and reflexive modernity to analyse the experience of young people in two Australian schools in areas of entrenched disadvantage where programs of youth participation have been introduced as part of the curriculum. It concludes that the debate about the relationship between agency and structure is one that is far from being done and dusted, but is one with which sociology must continue to engage.