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Youth participation and the Scottish Parliament: accessibility and participation for children and young people.

MacLeod, Iain M.



Peter McLaverty

Darren Halpin


The Scottish Parliament which (re)convened in 1999 was designed to engender a new style of political practice. This new politics was intended to address perceived failures within the Westminster approach to policy-making and the democratic deficit believed to have emerged during the 1980s in Scotland. Key to achieving this were four principles around which the Parliaments operations were designed: power-sharing; accountability; accessibility and participation; and equal opportunities. Citing accessibility and participation as the cornerstone of their work, the Parliaments institutional architects (the Consultative Steering Group) argued that devolution should deliver a participatory democracy, with proactive efforts to be made by the Parliament to involve groups traditionally excluded from the policy process. Due to the increasing prominence in recent years of discourse relating to young peoples disillusionment with organised politics and the CSGs recommendation that every effort should be made to include them in the new Parliaments work, this research examines the degree to which greater accessibility to and participation in the Parliaments work has been delivered for children and young people during the Parliaments first two terms (1999-2007). Findings are based upon a mixed-methodological case-study approach, involving an audit of the Parliament's activity and qualitative input from MSPs, Parliament staff, representatives of youth charities / organisations / advocacy groups, and young people themselves. The thesis argues that progress has been more pronounced in relation to accessibility than participation for younger people. The neoinstitutionalist theoretical framework suggests that insufficient rule specification in relation to the value of public participation and younger people has resulted in the emergence of hybridised logics of appropriate behaviour, particularly among parliamentarians. The result is the persistence of attitudes and practices which appear to reinforce aspects of Westminster practice and an adultist approach to young peoples role in politics. Drawing upon recent developments in neoinstitutionalist theories of reliable reproduction, institutional breakdown and gradual change, the thesis examines the institutional logic behind the failure to consolidate the Parliaments founding vision.


MACLEOD, I.M. 2009. Youth participation and the Scottish Parliament: accessibility and participation for children and young people. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 13, 2010
Publicly Available Date Aug 13, 2010
Keywords Scottish Parliament; Devolution; Children; Young people; Accessibility; Participation; New institutionalism
Public URL
Award Date Dec 31, 2009


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