This working paper reviews current academic and policy oriented research on the interface between young people’s participation and sustainable urban development. The study also examines the lives, capacities, and agencies of urban youth in the developing world and identifies significant gaps for research. In particular, it focuses on the political economy of youth focused development in an increasingly urban world. By ‘political-economy’ we mean the processes that shape the material conditions of young people’s lives in ways that reflect the workings of social, economic, and political power. At the heart of the political economic analysis is the role of structural forces that not only result in young people’s disenfranchisement, but also explain the perpetuation of their marginal position in society.
The analysis reveals a significant disconnect between, on the one hand, policy-oriented concerns of youth participation (often seen as participatory approaches in research and practice) and, on the other, the lived experiences of young people. The review also reveals that rapid urbanization poses as many challenges to youth as it offers opportunities. Although many young people are competent, knowledgeable, and creative, deep socio-economic transformations have profound consequences for their participation and life chances within cities.
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HS Number: 061/12E
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