Exploring the Limits and Potentials of Youth Participation in Public Policy at the State and Municipal Level: A Study in the State of Acre, Brazil

  • Lucicleia Barreto Queiroz
  • Isabel Menezes University of Porto, Portugal


In the last decade, youth entered the agenda of public policies in Brazil, recognizing not only the problems that affect young people, but also the need for a proactive perspective that views youngsters as playing a central role in the design and implementation of policy. This is a tendency that is also noticeable in other countries, and there is clearly a “vogue of youth participation” (Bessant 2004, 401) in public policy across the world. Research in the field tends to show that these experiences can be effective in promoting young people civic and political knowledge, attitudes and competences and therefore can become a strategy of non-formal citizenship education. However, there are critiques that participation in these initiatives risks pamphleteering and tokenism. The goal of this paper is to enter this debate by considering the Brazilian experience in the State of Acre and to explore whether and how opportunities for participation that youth public policies appear to stimulate are, in fact, perceived and experienced by groups involved in the process, from decision-makers to young people. Results show that, as in other countries, policies are still not living up to expectations and much more systematic work is necessary to guarantee that participation in youth policies is, in fact, a relevant citizenship experience.

Author Biographies

Lucicleia Barreto Queiroz

Lucicleia Barreto Queiroz is an adjunct professor at the Federal University of Acre. She is doing her PhD in Education at the Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences of the University of Porto with a scholarship from the Project Erasmus Mundus. She conducts research on youth civic and political participation and citizenship education.

Isabel Menezes, University of Porto, Portugal

Isabel Menezes is an Associate Professor with Habilitation in Education Sciences at the University of Porto, teaching courses of Educational and Community Intervention, Research Methodologies, Citizenship Education and Political Psychology. She has been coordinating research projects on citizenship education and civic and political participation, involving both formal and non-formal education, with a special focus on the experience of groups in risks of exclusion on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, and migrant status.

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