Engaging Young People in Weak Political Contexts: Neighborhoods, Schoolchildren and Participation in Palermo, Italy

Authors: Marco Picone*, University of Palermo
Topics: Qualitative Methods, Social Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Public Engagement, Participatory Action Research, Young People, Qualitative Research
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon C1, Sheraton 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper describes an experience of Participatory Action Research (PAR) with schoolchildren and young people, held in Palermo (Italy). Over the course of four years (2014-2017) several local secondary schools have worked along with the University of Palermo to re-design public spaces within their neighborhoods. Considering my role as main project manager, I will discuss three topics that appear of particular interest for geographers: the difficult attempt of empowering marginalized social groups and young people in a city that is characterized by a weak sense of public engagement and still widely influenced by criminal powers such as mafia; the importance of establishing a strong methodological structure for such projects, leading geographers to reflect on the various (mostly but not just) qualitative techniques that could be employed on a case-by-case basis; and the relevance of interdisciplinary collaborations with urban planners, sociologists and pedagogues, considering that geography in Italy is still perceived as a discipline that is closer to history and arts than to urban studies. I argue that including young people in urban planning, although definitely an effective source of awareness-raising, implies ethical considerations and theoretical reflections that we still have to evaluate thoroughly, at least for those countries which are not yet familiar with PAR and public engagement.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login