Young people look up to other young people

As stated by one young woman participating in the user feedback seminars for work package 1, we as researcher are dependent on the voices and ideas of young people, to be able to do something with and for young people. The comment that was casually mentioned, almost incidentally, during the seminar, was as obvious as multicolored. It was a statement that made visible an imagined line and distinction between generations, and between researchers and the researched. In the continued work with the YEIP project, this statement has lingered on. It has awoken questions regarding how to solve something of a puzzle.

YEIP Sweden is now preparing for work package 2, which will be conducted primarily in the school environment. Supported by its international partners and organizers, as well as by local collaborators, the process of entering the field of research and to fully take part of young peoples’ everyday life and thoughts is about to begin. As qualitative and ethnographic researchers this is a stage in the project that we really have been looking forward to. At the same time, when one is about to “leave” the desk phase and the foundational knowledge compiled in work package 1, new challenges are found at the horizon. One obvious concern has to do with ethical considerations.

How do you as a researcher (and maybe not so young), approach young people with questions on radicalization and marginalization methodologically, ethically, humanly? What does it actually mean to meet “the marginalized”, and trying close in on delicate and potentially stigmatizing topics, such as marginalization, radicalization and extremism?

Meeting young collaborators, and hopefully being able to use their energy, ideas and creativity as fuel, to do something long lasting with and for young people in the margins, is of course an honorable quest. But how can we, for example, explain our sampling strategy without stigmatizing the ones asked to participate? These kinds of questions have pondered us. Luckily there are local collaborators in the project with well-developed contacts within the municipality, the school environment, social services and more. These are professionals that meet young people daily, and without hesitation have offered their collaboration and help. Obviously, an international project like this would be difficult carry out without the such commitments. Due to this engagement, and the continuous interest of young people that invested their time in work package 1, we are now geared up for the upcoming phases of the project, in order to facilitate the possibility for young people to look up to other young people, creating positive trajectories among those experiencing marginalization.

Linne Universitetet