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Conceptualising children and young people’s participation: Examining vulnerability, social accountability and co-production

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in The International Journal of Human Rights on 8 November 2016, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13642987.2016.1248125.

    Accepted author manuscript, 149 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-75
Number of pages18
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


Children and young people’s participation in collective decision-making has become a popular policy and practice concern. Yet challenges persist, such as tokenism, limited impact and unsustainability. This article examines ways to address these challenges and realise children and young people’s participation, particularly in child protection contexts. Conceptually, the article investigates three popular ideas – vulnerability, social accountability and co-production. Each idea potentially suggests revised and more emancipatory relationships between the State and service users. Practically, the article matches these ideas to examples of children and young people’s participation. The article concludes that claims to vulnerability’s universality are persuasive; however, conceptualisations fail to address adult power. Social accountability addresses power, but insufficiently addresses the current challenges of participation. Co-production has the most potential, with participation examples that have been meaningful, effective and sustainable.

    Research areas

  • children, participation, rights, child protection, social accountability, vulnerability, co-production

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