"Social Innovation–Empowering the Young (SocIEtY) for the Common Good" both focuses on and integrates disadvantaged young people into the research process to improve their quality of life and to foster social innovation. SocIEtY extends the given informational basis for designing and implementing policies to reduce inequalities by giving voice and opportunities for developing aspirations to young people facing multifaceted inequalities while living in deprived city districts. The approach is to bring to the fore young persons’ concerns and voices about their self-perception and social participation in society.
The overall goal of SocIEtY is to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged young people through social innovation. In doing so the aim of SocIEtY is not only to identify opportunities to reduce inequalities, but also to extend and builds knowledge and tools for the ultimate policy goal of a ‘good life for all’. The project consequently takes the perspective of how young people aged 15-24 live in different European countries today; and examines what can be done to create social and institutional opportunities which will better enable them to live lives they have reason to value. This will include the participation, voices and aspirations of the young people themselves. One main issue of SocIEtY is the development of a broad knowledge base to foster socially innovative policymaking which avoids some of the unnecessary shortcomings of current policies.
Taking the Capability Approach as the conceptual basis, SocIEtY will in particular refer to the concept of “Informational Basis of the Judgement of Justice” (IBJJ) introduced by Amartya Sen (Sen 1990). Thus the project will deliver an empirical foundation to broaden the informational basis of local policies in two ways: it will widen the focus on the policy fields of employment and education to a more coherent perspective taking more policy fields into account (1). Secondly, the basis will be informed by a bottom-up perspective, including the voice and aspirations of young people and their participative engagement (2).
Project duration: January 2013 – December 2015
SocIEtY proposes a radical shift in the conception of how young people's inequality and and ensuing disadvantages can be tackled. Instead of having employment as the exclusive and for policies and the sesame of programs for youth, SocIEtY brings in the idea of focusing also on well-being and the flourishing of young people in their respective lifeworlds.
- Broadening the existing informational basis for policymaking to tackle inequalities and foster social innovation by looking at different policy fields through a combination of bottom-up and top-down perspectives.
- Empowering young people to bring in their voices, aspirations and enganements to enhance their options for participation and social inclusion.
- Developing a unique methodology of participation that links different stakeholders and status groups to create innovative partnerships to initiate new and innovative forms of deliberative processes for making and implementing policy.
An interdisciplinary collaboration of 13 partners from 11 European countries combines quantitative and qualitative methods and focusses on young people facing multifaceted inequalities while living in deprived city districts:
- Provision of new perspectives for youth policies in Europe to successfully fight inequalities and disadvantage.
- Promotion of young people's participation as citizens in society as a whole.
- Provision of opportunity spaces where young people can develop their ability for articulating their own aspirations and needs.
- Transfer of findings to stakeholders, politicians and various sectors of civil society with respect to enhancing young people's opportunities for voice and capabilities to aspire.