Empower Youth: Obstacles and Facilitators to Youth Societal and Civic Participations in Brussels

“Empower Youth project” is a 4-year research program (Nov. 2017- Oct. 2021) on societal and civic participation of young Brusselers conducted by Dr. Géraldine André (IES-VUB) and Dr. Alejandra Alarcon (GERME-ULB). Empower Youth is financed by Innoviris and is under the supervision of Ilke Adam (VUB) and Dirk Jacobs (ULB).

In a context of high unemployment rates, early school dropouts, decreasing trust of youngsters towards politicians in power, a myriad of initiatives have been created to respond to policy makers’ growing concern that youngsters participate less and less to society and existing democratic processes. Brussels has the youngest population in Belgium, and measures that focus specifically on youth participation are numerous, but not always attain their objectives.

The main goal of Empower Youth is to analyse what influences social and civic participation among disadvantaged youngsters in Brussels, especially the ones with a migratory background. The first part tackles societal participation of disadvantaged youngsters with a sociological and socio-political approach of the “non-take up” of their social rights in terms of education, employment, training and socio-professional integration. The second part is concerned by civic participation, that is to say political participation in a broad sense, using concepts and theoretical frameworks from social psychology. There are synergies between the two parts aiming at studying the links between the different types of societal and civic participations.