Control, cohesion and consumption: constructing young people through participation and citizenship


  • Rachel Ashcroft Goldsmiths, University of London



This article examines participation as a "discursive fact". Using the framework of Foucault, it explores the importance of participation and citizenship as "ordering concepts" in the New Labour project. Moreover, it argues that participation is part of a wider discourse of control, cohesion, and consumption. By de-politicising participation, New Labour serves to enhance its own legitimacy. This is the logical outcome of government as systems of thought and action. Youth and community practitioners also objectify youth, exercising similar discursive power in their own work. Putting participation into practice thus presents a challenge for workers, as they are required to recognise their power and to exercise it in a reflexive way.

Author Biography

Rachel Ashcroft, Goldsmiths, University of London

Rachel Ashcroft studied Social and Political Sciences and Theology at Cambridge University, before completing an MA in Applied Anthropology, Community and Youth Work at Goldsmiths. She is currently working for Croydon Youth Service as a Youth Participation Worker. Recent projects she has worked on have included youth-led conferences and managing the Youth Opportunity Fund project. She can be contacted by clicking rachelashcroft(AT)