Empowering children in politics: evaluating a participative democratic programme
Author(s)Palacios-Gálvez, María Soledad
Domínguez-Fuentes, Juan Manuel
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AbstractThe objective of this study was to evaluate a participative democracy programme called Ágora infantil, carried out with students between the ages of 10 and 12. As in participatory budgets, the process is based on the research-action model (Lewin, 1946) and consists of the city council opening up decision-making on a part of the municipal budget or a concrete policy to the children of the municipality. This process of diagnosis, prioritization and decision-making was completed over the course of 5 to 7 sessions during school hours and implemented by the Coglobal association. Once the participants make a decision, the city council carries out the project selected in the municipality (the decision made is binding). The main goal of Ágora Infantil is to generate psychological empowerment and wellbeing amongst its participants, and to measure the effects of this programme on children’s psychological empowerment. To this end, we used Zimmerman´s model (Zimmerman, 1995; Zimmerman, 2000). The operationalization of the strengthening was based on: 1) knowledge of local politics (as a component of the interactional dimension of psychological empowerment) and 2) the self-perception of being able to influence the future of the municipality (component of the intrapersonal dimension of psychological empowerment). In addition, wellbeing was evaluated through the perception of being heard (Casas y Bello, 2012) and trust in the city council.
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