Finnish National Level Youth Organizations and Legitimacy

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Seminar 31 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Hanna LAITINEN, Humak University of Applied Sciences / University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
The focus of this study is on a specific type of Nonprofit Organizations; Youth Organizations. These are defined as organizations whose members are young or who target a significant part of their activities at young people. The main questions of the study examine what kinds of aims these organizations have for youth participation; what kind of opportunities to participate they arrange for the youth as participants, members, volunteers and governors; and how the hybrid characteristics of these organizations are related to the various roles they define for themselves as enablers of youth participation.

The fourth important question addresses the concept of legitimacy: How do the organizations legitimize the roles they take towards their young constituents? Within this, it is also relevant to ask who are the other stakeholders that are used as sources of legitimacy. Whose assessment of the legitimacy of the organization is considered important and how it is gained in practical terms? What does this mean in terms of accountability? In the Finnish context, the role of the public sector is very important, as almost 75 percent of the national youth organizations are funded by the Ministry of Culture and Education either as annual subsidies or as project support. 

The empirical data of my study consists of survey data with 113 respondents and interview data from semi-structured interviews with 20 paid and volunteer leaders in youth organizations. The questions of legitimacy will be answered mainly on the basis of qualitative analysis of the interview data using a mixture of content and narrative analysis.