Living together reloaded

This is the fourth in the series of research papers based on the community’s experiences of transition. Do read it, see if it’s you in the picture of young  looking to improve opportunities and access to resources not just for themselves, but for others as well; if it’s similar to how you’re designing your own lifestyle, or the way you move around in networks, building strong ties based on shared aspirations. All constructive input is very valuable. Remember that it’s these papers and feedback that will feed into the Transition Handbook for Policymakers, edited by Rebecca Collins and up by the end of the year.

Social inclusion of young people. Being socially included on the Edge?

by Barbara Giovanna Bello


If you feel like reading the full report, check out this google doc and comment in there!

What is inclusion in CoE and EU policy frameworks?

When higher education is no longer guaranteeing entry into labor force, employment becomes a prerequisite for inclusion.

Social inclusion lies at the core of social policies and promoting it means enabling access and opportunities to resources for as many people as possible in a society, in terms of healthcare, housing, schooling, employment, culture, justice.  The promise of social inclusion is that it contributes to making societies thrive, by promoting equality of access and broader integration with institutions - in education, labor market and citizen participation in decision-making, thus leading to overall citizen wellbeing and ultimately fostering growth and prosperity. Baseline for inclusiveness, if I understand correcly, is people to have access to what is considered the normal amount of wellbeing in a given society, or have the same opportunities as their peers.

Understanding inclusion often has been reduced to emphasizing what we don’t want for our societies: we don’t want people to experience exclusion, and this goes beyond financial wellbeing; it is reflected in the social relations, through unequal participation in exchanges and pervasion of power inequalities, and discrimination. Someone is excluded when they don’t belong and are not participating in institutionalized relations in society, and most often this is visible in the extent to which included members project moral judgment upon the excluded, such that they are viewed worthy or unworthy to receive support.

The Council of Europe has been working on this for the last 40 years, with inclusion addressed in the framework for social cohesion, a more positive term because it focuses on opportunities. The EU focused attention on it starting the 2000s, by proposing a framework for national strategies and encouraging open coordination amongst individual state policies.

Overtime, the tendency has moved more and more towards actively involving the young themselves in drafting and evaluating youth related documents. Hence the very successful Youth In Action programme established for the period 2007-2013, which was a pioneer in focusing on equal and non-discriminatory access, containing a specific strategy for inclusion. Emphasis has been put on ensuring that all young people benefit from it, especially those with fewer opportunities like early school dropouts, people with mental and physical disabilities, those having a migrant or Roma background, young refugees etc. The YiA has been successful in providing them with learning opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise access, through traditional education frameworks.

Barbara argues that the definitions of ‘social inclusion’ and ‘social exclusion’, emerged in the European Union, could be constructed as involving three dimensions: recognition of rights, a fairer distribution of resources and parity participation (equal political voice).

Inclusion as experienced by Edgeryders

Edgeryders is a highly socially inclusive space, it is open to any citizen and it fosters transnational exchanges. Natural constraints, as Barbara and the other researchers have identified, would be limited access in terms of language barriers or internet use (e-inclusion).

ERs aim to de-institutionalize current patterns of values and what is known through “social status”, or identity which is bound by race, ethnicity or other type of inherited background; not only in their immediate environments, but through political action and civil society initiatives, re-creating identities of others by focusing not on structural differences, but on bridges and a focus on better future. Diversity and integration of minorities should depart from rigid categorization and adopt more fluid understandings of identity

In Edgeryders posts the forming of family – through marriage and having children - is an important factor generative of a specific lifestyle, and family borders are rather fluid than bound by traditional institutions such as church or the state – think of single parenting, same sex marriage and women emancipation. What this tells us is that we need more broader conceptualization of family and lifestyles, recognizing agency over new lifestyle models.

Barriers to work entry and access to stable income have been clearly noted from the community’s experiences, also in the ethnographic report. Even if ERs are not themselves under-educated, on the contrary, yet our ways to acquire skills lie mostly outside school environments; but if for us accessing paid work through traditional employment schemes is difficult, whether by choice or not since there seems to be some maneuver space, for those less educated and actually excluded, the problems are much harsher and in great need for better, more inclusive policies that allow and enable more balanced careers. There seems to be high potential for widening and more inclusive reach of non-formal learning policies.

Edgeryders actions to cope with mal-distribution of material resources aren’t reinforcing structures, but are transformative in nature: they want to be in control of their lives and go for more flexible, rewarding experiences; and their way to do this is through sharing attitudes, not just in hierarchy-free work places, but also in low cost shared living arrangements in times when rents are skyrocketing; or by developing close ties with local communities, at home or while traveling (e.g. chouchsurfing).

The most important instrument for Edgeryders bringing and keeping communities close is the activation of networks (ERs have high social capital in general) through peer relationships. This is multifaceted, and it can be expressed through sheer solidarity in light of ideals (like the initiative to support people of Greece); or thinking about global problems and solving them in one’s community (like Lucas’s plan for health provision break downs); or networking for shared political causes, not necessarily or better said, least in formal politics (for example as commons carers).

Policy recommendations

In general, from Edgeryders experiences surfaces a great need to re-interpret social policy by de-constructing categorizations and focus on common aspirations and giving youth the space to build bottom up initiatives in search for a better future for and by all. Barbara adds that: “the main idea of the edgeryders’ governance is the departure from the bureaucratic machinery and the implementation of co- models (co-working, co-housing, sharing of decisions, etc.)”

  • Recognition of a role and voice of young people in society, as peers 
  • Recognition of young people’s agency, talents and potential beyond the logic of ordinary curricula and market economy; instead of targeting those who are considered the marginalized and reinforcing labels, focus on commonly held aspirations;
  • By placing a lot of value in coaching, mentoring, inspiring role models, which are provided by both ‘seniors’ and their peers and mostly outside formal work relations, young people like Edgeryders should be provided with fair access to scant resources, in order to continue to work together and make sustainable work where they choose to put their own creativity
  • Young people should be involved in designing, implementing and evaluating youth-related policies. In other words, they should be empowered to participate in the ex-ante evaluation and needs assessment, as well as in the ex-post evaluation.
All mission reports on Living together
  1. The rules of the space: Making sense of interactions as we navigate different spaces

Social group chameleon

Moving through space

  1. You, me and everyone we know: how do you build networks in the offline and online

Using Game Cards

Connected happiness

Meaningful diversity

Living online

The Weekend Movement in Malaysia

My social network

Are social networks really helping social connections?

Youth in Action for Social Cohesion: Case of Valkyries.

Online social networks at work

the social network

L’altra faccia della medaglia

Solidarity with people living in Greece (Spain, Italy, Ireland,… , …) : social networks against austerity (austeria?) across political ‘borders’

#Edgecamp unconference report. Sessions about demopolitique and crowdmodelising an alternate society model of micro and meta-communities.

  1. We-mix culture: Tell us about a project you know or have started that looks into cultural blends. What statement does it make?

In Search Of Transnational Identities - or Stereotypophobes Around The World

Are future generations ready to make a change in the actual structure of Parity and Diversity in organizations?

Food and Culture

Are “gaźe” (non-Gypsy ppl) friends or enemies?

online electronic music collaboration with anonymity

The Cocoworkers trendsetters - An illustrated chronicle of rising activities in The Loft Coworking Brussels

Vuka! A club night for Milanese from all over the world to relax and enjoy each other’s company

Youth mixing cultures project

Rete G2: the incredibly true adventure of a group of foreigners in their own home ( I hate long titles :slight_smile: ! )


Showing our oppressions is the first step to overcome them: an experiment of “Forum Theatre” with immigrant and italian women in Trentino (Italy)

Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From, Ask Me Where I’m Heading (Project Work for Designing Processes For Social Change Course)

descovering and de-constructing prejudice with teenagers

  1. Mine becomes ours: The CO trends - co-housing, co-working, co-building, co-ops, co-owning - as spaces to build relationships.

Options for spaces to cover in Stroud

Open source car project

Co-Living and Co-Working together in Basilicata / Italy

A tale about basic human decency …

Housing in Paris: Ridiculously High difference between Offer and Demand = WHY would you want to live City that “don’t want you there” :)?

A few of us. living together (somewhere) and changing things?: The (un)Monastery

Unmonastery - everybody needs a sabbatical

The Unmonastery - some design issues

Choosing projects and people - another Unmonastery design problem

Public Good

  1. Meet my family: Have family constellations changed?

Socmed spying goes too far //// Children of divorce

Creative home-based living

Family Life - A myth

A family of my own

family life and freedom of religion

Die in the City

costellazioni familiari

Other research summaries awaiting for your feedback, just pick the topic that most interests you :slight_smile:

This is all very relevant, but…

Disclaimer: The following mesage might be off-topic and is asking more questions than it tries to answer.

There’s a peculiar feeling & fear I have that we might might not receive a well informed, responsible feedback on the message/vision we are sending across.

Even if we create highly social inclusive and super-connected among ourselves (out generation) this does’t necessarily mean that the ones in positions to take decisions will want listen to us, or take us seriously, or even understand us. Even if the policy makers totally resonated with us and were willing to make a change, the instruments they have or and the structres they are part of may not be able to bring about the change we envision. I am so inspired by the thoughts and actions of the people on Edgeryders, but my new work experience disturbes and slightly despresses me, because young, open-minded, dedicated people give-up and submit to the system and I’m affraid I’ll turn the same.

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness/consciousnes/thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein

How do we convince funders to sponsor and people to try innovative things that haven’t been tried before? How do let the munderstand that it might be better than trying the same over and over again and has 0 or minimal impact? How do we get them out of their comfort zones?

If the this new generation wants to be seen and approached as a generation of peers, we have to act like one. Can we create a critical mass? What would people like us have to do to get a wide public acclaim/following?

Crazy ideas pop into my head like creating a new from of social organization (don’t like to call it state) and show to the rest that a better world is possible. Infiltrate an already existing structures, like villages, towns or cities? Do we have already existing examples of good practices of flourishing and sustainable communities?

Maybe what we need is some kind of  “Manifesto for the Conscious Generation” where ideas, thoughts and projects of people found on Edgeryders and elsewhere would be collected. It would be shared on the Internet, in the streets, schools, correctional facilities, everywhere…to form a bottom-up process that would gradually make acceptable the innovative/forward-thinking ideas that are way ahead of their time.

What is considered a success?

Hey Noemi thank you for sharing the summary. I wonder what the basis is for claiming that an initative like “Youth In Action” is successfull? Who is setting the criteria? How is it determined that they are met…and stepping even further back how is the agenda set (i.e. how is it decided which issues really are worth addressing and which ones not?). I read @Monki’s paper on the We the People campaign. He deconstructs what is meant by “participation” in the policy space. Am posting the mission report now. Will add link here after…