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Children's Political Representation: The Right to Make a Difference

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image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

While children's rights have made significant gains in recent decades, children and youth continue to wield relatively little power in determining the nature of their societies' rights as such. This article sets out to explore what it might mean for children to enjoy genuine political representation. While it is often acknowledged that children should possess political rights to participation, voice, and citizenship, we argue that there is a need also for their more specific right to representation in democratic government. Furthermore, this right can be realized only if the very notion of representation is rethought along post-modern lines in light of children's particular experiences: as a right not so much to exercise autonomy as to make a political difference. The article examines recent movements toward children's involvement in policy-making, children's parliaments, and children's voting, and then makes practical proposals for enabling children's fuller representational empowerment.

Affiliations: 1: Departments of Philosophy and Religion and Childhood Studies, Rutgers University; 2: Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University


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