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Children's Participation and Good Governance: Limitations of the Theoretical Literature

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Children are an important stakeholder group; they constitute 34% of the world's citizens and their actions will determine our collective future. The UNCRC created consensus that children's views must be taken seriously. Yet their opinions have failed to inform the allocation of resources used in their name. Their views are rarely sought during scrutiny of government despite their valuable insights on the functioning of public institutions. This paper summarises the debates around children's participation and argues that there has been little dialogue across the academic fields. The long history of children's participation in the South is only starting to inform the new wave of attention to children as active citizens in the North. The paper poses questions as a catalyst for further debate: Why do theoretical frameworks fail children? What is the impact of the process of 'participation'? Are children who lack the networks and social capital being excluded?

Affiliations: 1: Honorary Fellow, School of Social and Political Studies, University of Edinburgh


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