Youth participation: creating good citizens or good subjects?


  • Helen Clark Goldsmiths, University of London



This article seeks to locate the idea of youth participation in the wider anthropological debates on nationalism and citizenship. By examining UK Government policy such as the Respect Action Plan (Home Office 2006) and the Youth Matters Green Paper (DfES 2005), the article will analyse the Government's approach to young people as citizens. Drawing on theories of republican and liberal citizenship the article will seek to show that the Government's thinking on citizenship and young people is somewhat confused, and that this has a direct impact on the forms of participation offered to young people. Using my own experience as a youth worker I will show the impact this has on youth work practice and the ways in which young people experience citizenship and participation in everyday situations. Ultimately it will be argued that the Government's approach to citizenship is leading to the creation of good subjects rather than good citizens.

Author Biography

Helen Clark, Goldsmiths, University of London

Helen Clark studied at Goldsmiths College, University of London where she completed an MA in Applied Anthropology, Youth and Community Work in 2006. She currently works as a Youth Participation Worker for Croydon Youth Service in London and can be reached at h_clark39(AT)