Empower Europe’s disadvantaged youth

Nieuws | de redactie
19 februari 2013 | The EU starts a mayor project to improve quality of life for European youth. “The ideas and wishes of young people should be a challenge to decision makers in politics and administration, and oblige them to make the necessary corrections,” says researcher Hans-Uwe Otto.

The Bielefeld University will coordinate the EU project ‘SocIEtY’. The European Union is investing 2.5 million Euro in this research. A total of 40 social scientists will be carrying out comparative national studies on how far young people are able to participate in society in a self-determined way and exploit their developmental opportunities.

13 partners from 11 countries

This project, in which thirteen partners from eleven European countries participate, is being coordinated by the Bielefeld University. Together they will be working on the development of innovative social and institutional ways of improving the quality of life of young people. SocIEtY stands for: ‘Social Innovation – Empowering the Young for the Common Good’.

The researchers want to find out what young people consider necessary to live a good and successful life. “The number of young Europeans who are socially disadvantaged is growing continuously. By applying new approaches to research, the project will discover which are the decisive social mechanisms for this situation,” says Hans-Uwe Otto who is responsible for the scientific and coordination of the project.

Reshaping Europe’s youth policy

The 13 research teams will observe the life situation of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and investigate their expectations and ideas on a successful life. The main focus of this project is on work and education. “We are particularly interested in the aspects of participation in society and equal opportunities,” says researcher Alkje Sommerfeld. The project will assess how the quality of life of these young people in Europe is developing within the given political, social, and cultural conditions. This also always concerns the possibilities of social support and political self-determination they can be expected to have.

The innovative research approach actively integrates young persons through, for example, reflexive group interviews and interactive video work in jointly organized workshops. Young people should be given a chance to have their interests heard and taken into account by decision makers in politics, administration, and industry. “The ideas and wishes of young people should be a challenge to decision makers in politics and administration, and oblige them to make the necessary corrections,” says Hans-Uwe Otto. “The project is the first of its kind in the EU. It is making a major contribution to reshaping European youth policy by linking the ability to engage in self-determined action with the opportunities in society.”


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