chapter  8
30 Pages

Inclusive Citizenship and Social Cohesion

This study of youth political identities in different European countries is a highly topical and fascinating one given the considerable demographic, economic, political and socio-cultural change currently taking place in Europe. At the same time, the study makes important contributions to the immigration, citizenship, identity and ethnicity research literature on both sides of the Atlantic, and incorporates the views of educationalists and sociologists as well as political scientists. The study is the first of its kind to bring together between-country and within-country differences in youth identity formations. By analysing the perspectives of ethnic majority and Turkish minority youth, the study intertwines the potential effects of national, European and multicultural political agendas, rather than looking at each dimension separately. Finally, the study unravels a wide range of factors shaping contemporary youth identity negotiation, including social class, ethnic relations, and school-level factors. In so doing, I offer new insights into the particular role of school dynamics in shaping youth identities, including school ethos, peer cultures and school-level policy approaches. The findings of the study suggest that national citizenship agendas and identities involve complex ethnic negotiations, circumscribed by the presence or absence of European dimensions. I argue that these findings point to the need for policy-makers, politicians and educators alike not only to rethink concepts such as the nation-state and Europe along more inclusive multiethnic and multifaith lines, but also to revisit the challenge of balancing diversity and social cohesion. In this way, governments might begin to promote more inclusive citizenship and educational policies that are based on what works best on the ground in multiethnic schooling contexts across Europe.