Youth participation and citizenship education

An analysis of relations in four European countries




civic and political participation, citizenship education, NGOs, non-formal education, young people


  • Young people are often accused of a lack of interest and disengagement from public affairs.
  • Little is known about the opportunities and experiences for youngsters to be more engaged.
  • Citizenship education has been at the centre of educational proposals in many European countries.
  • The investments made in education policies, concerning citizenship education seem to fall short.

Purpose: We intend to bring into debate what seems to be a paradoxical relation between the lack of youth civic and political participation, and the current disinvestment in the effective implementation of citizenship education policies.

Design: A comparative framework between four European countries concerning youth civic and political participation, and citizenship education policies, including the involvement of NGOs in youth civic education.

Findings: Data shows that young people’s (apparent) participatory apathy may have other readings or other meanings. Young people seem to be increasingly looking for more dynamic and less traditional forms of participation, and there is a need for citizenship education policies to be more grounded in this reality.

Implications: Overall, we might be facing a paradox where educational policies seem to be tailor-made for young people who do not actually relate to them.

Author Biographies

Ana Bela Ribeiro, University of Porto

Ana Bela Ribeiro, PhD in Educational Sciences from the University of Porto, is Invited Professor at the Department of Educational Sciences and Supervision of the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, where she teaches in the fields of Sociology of Education, Didactics and Social Sciences. She is full researcher at the Centre for Research and Intervention in Education of the University of Porto, and her main research interests are citizenship education, civic and political participation, and educational policies.

Isabel Menezes, University of Porto

Isabel Menezes, PhD in Psychology from the University of Porto, is Full Professor in the Department of Educational Sciences, University of Porto. She is a member of CIIE, research centre in educational research and intervention, and teaches in the fields of Educational Research, Educational and Community Intervention, Political Education and Political Psychology. Her research deals with the civic and political participation of children, young people, and adults, with a special interest in groups at risk of exclusion on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, and migrant status, and the ways formal and non-formal education (including artistic) experiences can generate more complex ways of relationship with the political.


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How to Cite

Ribeiro, A. B., & Menezes, I. (2022). Youth participation and citizenship education: An analysis of relations in four European countries. JSSE - Journal of Social Science Education, 21(1).