Narratives of Refusal, Narratives of Engagement, Narratives of Organisation: School Activism As Citizenship-in-Practice for Young Refugees and Migrants in Italy

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


This presentation discusses the results of four researches with young refugees and migrants that took place in three different regions of Northern Italy between 2006 and 2014, crossing an unfinished economic crisis, the rise and fall of xenophobic political parties and a continuing debate around migration and inclusion in different social contexts. Data consist of young (age 13 to 18) people’s narratives, promoted and collected through 62 focus group and 118 individual interviews. Notwithstanding different aims, the four researches share a similar methodology, consisting in the facilitation of young people’s narratives to support a phenomenological description of how they make sense of events and actions in their lives, through examining the story they produce. The presentation focuses on a common thread emerging from data collecting over a 8 years period: whilst experiencing a situation of inequality in the participation in the political system, due their legal status, nevertheless young refugees and migrants build spaces of active political participation through social movements, in this way taking ownership of urgent social issues related to inclusion and equality that do not concern only minorities. Examples discussed will include: participation in students and trade unions, support offered to unaccompanied migrant/asylum-seeking children, protest against global capitalism and global wars. The rich narratives collected suggest that for young refugees and migrants (as well as for young Italians) participation in social movements and political associations is context for the development of trust commitments in intercultural groups, built on shared political objectives. The presentation argues that the commitment for a more inclusive and equal society is a social space where young refugees, migrant and non-migrant become agents of cultural hybridization and practiced citizenship. The presentation concludes by reflecting on how these narrated experiences challenge hegemonic representations of young refugees and migrants as inhabiting marginal areas of society.
Period15 Jul 2018
Event titleInternational Sociological Society (ISA) XIX World Congress of Sociology
Event typeConference
LocationToronto, CanadaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Children of MIgrants
  • Citizenship
  • Political participation
  • Social Movements
  • Italy
  • Teenagers