Youth Civic Participation in Iran: Explanations and Prospects

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal II (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Distributed Paper
Ali Akbar TAJMAZINANI, Faculty of Social Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran
Review of various studies about youth participation in Iran indicates that young people are engaged in various social activities as well as diverse range of youth and youth-related organizations. However, the same studies reveal the fact that the participatory willingness and capacity of young people is not yet completely realized. The causes of this issue could be traced at macro, meso and micro levels. At the macro level, weaknesses in the policy making and planning system of the country (such as ambiguity in the status of instruments and programs pertaining to youth participation as well as the absence or weakness of a participatory approach in other youth related programs) is a serious barrier to the full, optimized and effective youth participation.

At the meso level, it is the case for existing participatory institutions and mechanisms to suffer from various shortcomings including: incomplete coverage of various groups, unequal access to and use of their services and benefits, narrow minded approaches and views in supporting various youth subgroups, elitist and non-democratic nature of some youth related institutions, government based or state oriented nature and inadequate autonomy of some other bodies, as well as lack of an Umbrella Youth Body (representing all youth and youth-related entities).

At the micro level, it is evident from existing research that young people do not find the society and its environment suitable enough for their maximum participation, despite their high level of willingness and interest. It is of special importance to mention the role of such variables as sense of efficacy, generalized and institutional trust, sense of belonging and commitment in promoting or hindering youth participation.

Young people are now seeking new styles and spaces for engagement and therefore it is a vital agenda for youth policy in Iran to address existing barriers at the above-mentioned levels.