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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Participation in community planning : youth and their allies develop healthier practices Ross, Sally


In the context of community development planning, this paper discusses youth activism around issues of social/environmental justice and population health. Through social science research methodologies and qualitative analytical approaches, including personal interviews, focus groups and participant observation, the study leads to findings related to (1) the various ways that youth organizations are contributing to healthy community development, (2) the enabling factors that facilitate this process and (3) the innovative strategies that youth and their allies can provide to community organizing and the theory and practice of participatory planning. Key theorists from the literature, namely Paulo Freire, John Friedmann and John Forester, orient the study's ideological foundation in critical theory. Recent models of social capital theory inform the development of a new framework for analysis of the findings, based on social capital. A data analysis within this model reveals the valuable techniques of social organisation that youth and their allies are developing in their efforts to advance critical education and social change. These techniques are the practical organizational dynamics of an emerging civic culture that emphasizes the values of inclusion, respect, equity and solidarity. The thesis concludes with suggestions of its broader implications for health, for planning theory and practice and for the conceptualization and treatment of work in our lives.

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