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Institutional Analysis of Youth Public Participation: Government Youth Task Force and Representativeness Formation

Institutional Analysis of Youth Public Participation: Government Youth Task Force and Representativeness Formation

Yun-Hsiang Hsu, Wei-Ying Sung, Feng-Yan Tzeng


In the wake of the Student Movement of March 18th, 2014 local governments in Taiwan started setting up organizations specializing in youth affairs, hoping to facilitate youth participation in public affairs via representative agencies. Although representative agencies of different forms were established, such as Bureau of Youth Affairs and Youth Advisory Committee, local governments continue to adopt traditional corporatism in terms of representative selection, selecting only a handful of youth leaders as representatives to reap and convert their political energy later. To define the role that representative agencies of this generation should play, this study examines the formation of youth affairs divisions in local governments and the representative selection process in those organizations.

From the interviews with personnel and youth representatives at youth affairs-specialized agencies, it emerged that policy learning failed to kindle the passion for politics among disillusioned youth, since the approach caused the dilemma resulting from corporatism to metastasize into other regions, besides producing nominal “outstanding” youths or representatives nominated by executive agencies. The implementation of such a policy also prohibited agencies from taking opinions into account from a wider youth population. Moreover, the President’s call for active engagement in politics by the younger generation politicized regional youth representative agencies, compromising their practical functions. A paucity of a clear mission and organizational identity, compounded by obscure objectives and redundant political resources, produced numerous policy initiatives that were difficult to turn into concrete and feasible policies. Finally, a reciprocal relationship was formed between youth representatives and the agencies that train them, with the former proposing subsidy projects in conformity with the latter’s vision for youth participation in politics, helping the latter meet key performance evaluation standards. The reciprocity between the two players made them deviate further away from the policy goal of encouraging youth participation in public affairs.

Keywords: youth participation in public affairs, representative agencies, traditional mechanism