Are “Conseils citoyens” unsuitable for youth participation? Three case studies in working classes districts in the peripheries of Lyon

Special report—Citizens’ committees: A lot of fuss about nothing?
By Alice Daquin, Marine Huet, Julien Lebian, Emmanuel Martinais, Camille Martinez

This article analyses the creation of “Conseils citoyens” from the perspective of youth participation in working class neighborhoods, based on educational experiments that took place in three research fields in the urban areas of Lyon in France (Saint-Fons, Vaulx-en-Velin and Grigny). It questions the ability of this new participatory system to integrate young people who usually struggle to get involved in city-wide stakes. Although conceived on different practical modalities, these three case studies lead to two major results. Firstly, the mobilization of the youth, although desired, remains constrained by a set of common fragilities which manifest in turbulent educational and socio-professional trajectories, a distant and distrustful relationship with local institutions and a deep feeling of illegitimacy concerning citizen participation. Secondly, the participatory norm related to the functioning of “Conseils citoyens” has not adjusted well to the expectations of the public. It contributes, under these circumstances, to reproducing the structures which consistently turn young working-class people away from institutionalized participation.

  • Conseils citoyens
  • participation of young people
  • popular district
  • urban policy
  • teaching experiment
  • Saint-Fons City (France)
  • Vaulx-en-Velin City (France)
  • Grigny City (France)
  • urban areas of Lyon (France)
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