Tensions and dilemmas in participatory youth projects working within institutional frameworks

Ditte Maria Børglum Tofteng, Anne Harju, Isabel M Bernedo Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The aim of the article is to explore the tensions and dilemmas that arise when bottom-up projects involving young people are placed within policy- and administratively driven institutions. The tensions and dilemmas are illustrated through three cases. The first case illustrates the colliding interests that can arise when institutions seem unable to create space for ideas from youth projects, while the second shows how bottom-up work is subordinated to policy priorities and high-level management anxieties. The third case illustrates the difficulties that arise when youth projects aiming at doing transformative and educative work collide with formal mechanisms of the legal system. The tensions and dilemmas at play are analysed through the concepts of disciplinary and project logic. The article concludes with a discussion of power relations, ownership, and control connected to youth projects and participation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2312855
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescence and Youth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024


  • children and youth
  • research designs, theory and method
  • management, organizational development and innovation


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