Governance and youth in local contexts: social policies in front of the challenge of new connections with social work, sociological methodology and planning methods
Human and Social Sciences University of Trento Trento, Italy
The challenge of governance opens a new season in social policy, through which citizens share more power (and duties) with local authorities.
The reasons of this process are different. On the one hand, there is a lack of resources: the public bureaucracy calls profit and non profit agencies to share the burden of social interventions. On the other hand, there is a lack of rationality: local authorities need to communicate with the potential target of their policy, in order to discover problems, as well as resources and actors which can be activated for a communitarian solution.
When the target is youth, specific difficulties rise. Several researches point out an emerging mistrust in institutions, often connected with hostile attitudes. On this basis, local municipalities have strong difficulties in involving young citizens in planning projects oriented to the wider community, from the neighbourhood to the hole metropolitan area.
This contribution aims to illustrate methodological tools and results of an empirical intervention of political governance realized for youth (15-25 years) in a small metropolitan area (100.000 inhabitants) in the North of Italy (city of Bolzano), which aimed to plan interventions for the promotion of the quality of everyday life.
The empirical analysis demonstrates that developing the political governance with youth implies facing the connection between at least 2 challenges:
- defining new models of social and educational work, which aims to get in touch with youth, its informal groups and non profit agencies, in order to create the necessary trust which makes possible a clear agreement about deadlines, power and decision spaces, commitments, both of the public administration and of young citizens;
- building new path of sociological methodology: the classic model of action-research has to be integrated with the emerging planning methods, such as future workshops, in order to place side by side the analysis of the social context, with its needs and resources, and the empowerment of a new citizenship, which opens new ways of an active relationship with the local welfare system.