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Post-print of: Graham, A, Whelan, J & Fitzgerald, RM 2006, ‘Progressing participation: taming the space between rhetoric and reality’, Children, Youth and Environments, vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 231-247.

© Children, Youth and Environments (2003-2008)

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Participation, as a social and political movement, continues to gain momentum, and the legal and sociological frameworks supporting the rights of children and young people to participate in various aspects of social life are now well established. Yet, there are gaps and silences behind the rhetoric of participation that beg closer scrutiny. Such analysis is important in ensuring “participation” is not un-problematically adopted by policy makers and practitioners without regard to the complex and competing agendas at work in its implementation or any clear evidence of the significance or outcomes for the young people involved. This paper explores some of the complexities and ambiguities of participation through the lens of experience in working with a group of young people, 12 to 22 years old, who are actively involved with the Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia.

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