Overall, YouCount targets two strands of inquiry: 1) knowledge about social inclusion and how to create social change through the involvement of young citizen scientists and 2) contributing to the scientific knowledge base for Y-CSS for increased scaling. This is reflected in the specific objectives below. In line with the EU Youth Strategy and official EU definitions, the project includes young people from a wide age range – 15 to 29 years old – because youths face many inclusion challenges well into their 20s, as well as during their teenage years.
The project will focus on youths in general but will address the circumstances of youths who are most at risk of marginalisation in terms of poverty, migration, disability, low education, unemployment and disenfranchisement; some cases will 3 include young people from deprived or disadvantaged areas. Thus, the project will involve a broad range of young people from local areas to avoid stigmatising particular groups by labelling them as ‘disadvantaged youths’ while stimulating social networking across groups of young people. In doing so, the project acknowledges that young people are a diverse group of citizens, and many possess important resources for local innovation and development.
YouCount will focus on social inclusion, which is understood as equal opportunities for youth participation in society, and will elucidate three main domains of social inclusion: 1) social participation (e.g., work, education and social life); 2) connectedness and social belonging; and 3) citizenship and rights. As elaborated on later, the multiple case studies – consisting of nine co-creative Y-CSS projects across Europe – will provide increased knowledge of the positive drivers for social inclusion in general and specific knowledge and innovation in relation to participation, belonging and citizenship.
Youths will participate as citizen scientists in two ways: Young people from the community and students will participate in the whole research process as citizen scientists (R-YCS) in the research teams. A larger group of youths will serve as community citizen scientists (C-YCS) at a lower level of participation by contributing data from their daily experiences on an online platform, and identifying targeted solutions through participating in local dialogue forums (DF, e.g., group conversations or ‘listenings’). Each case will establish local living labs (LLs) with multiple stakeholders in the wider community, which will use the data provided by the participating young citizen scientists to cocreate policy-making and innovations in terms of new ideas, products or methods as a way to create social change