Primera sección: teoría y metateoría




Youth and neighborhood effect in Southern European cities: some pending issues to analyze*


Juventud y efecto barrio en las ciudades del Sur de Europa: Algunos aspectos pendientes de analizar


Juventude e "efeito vizinhança" nas cidades do sul da Europa: alguns aspectos pendentes de análise



Ana Belén Cano–Hila


1 Universitat de Barcelona, Spain. Phd in Sociology. Assistant Professor at University of Barcelona. Departament of Sociology. Faculty of Education. E–mail:



Artículo recibido en mayo 31 de 2016; artículo aceptado en julio 25 de 2016 (Eds.)


Abstract (descritpive):

This is a theoretical paper, which presents a systematic and critical review of different authors about the neighborhood effect and the State’s role in the life paths of young people and introduces reflections, contributions and nuances that have emerged from an empirical work, with the intention of advancing the conceptual reflection of phenomena such as neighborhood effect and processes of youth social exclusion on the outskirts of the city. The methodology chosen is the comparative case study among four working class neighborhoods in the periphery of Barcelona and Milan. Finally, main conclusions are: previous researches about neighbourhood effect have ascribed other elements to the neighbourhood leading to social exclusion, even when they are not created by neighbourhood itself, but they are the result of extra–territorial and extra–local processes.

Key words: Urban youth –{TE2_125}–, urban community –{UP_129}–, suburbs –{TE_45}– (Thesaurus of Unesco, Social Sciences). Author Key words: State, public policy, neighborhood effect.


Resumen (descriptivo):

Este es un artículo teórico que por un lado, presenta una revisión sistemática y crítica sobre la literatura del efecto barrio y el papel del Estado en las trayectorias de vida de los jóvenes, y por otro lado, introduce reflexiones, aportaciones y matices que han surgido de un trabajo empírico, con la intención de promoverla reflexión conceptual sobre el efecto barrio y los procesos de exclusión social juvenil en las periferias urbanas. La metodología elegida es el estudio de caso comparativo entre cuatro barrios de la clase obrera en la periferia de Barcelona y Milán. Los principales resultados son que investigaciones precedentes sobre el efecto barrio han atribuido al barrio elementos vinculados a la exclusión social, incluso cuando estos procesos no son creados por el propio barrio, sino que son el resultado de procesos extra–territoriales y extra–locales.

Palabras clave: Juventud urbana –{TE2_125}–, comunidad urbana –{UP_129}–, suburbio –{TE_45}– (Thesaurus Unesco, Ciencias Sociales). Palabras clave autores: Estado, política pública, efecto de barrio.


Resumo (descritivo):

Este é um artigo teórico que por um lado apresenta uma revisão sistemática e crítica da literatura do "efeito vizinhança" e o papel do Estado nas trajetórias de vida dos jovens e, por outro lado, introduz reflexões, aportes e matizes que têm surgido de um trabalho empírico, com a intenção de promover a reflexão conceitual sobre o efeito de vizinhança e processos de exclusão social de jovens nas periferias urbanas. A metodologia escolhida é o estudo de caso comparativo entre quatro bairros de classe operária na periferia de Barcelona e Milão. Os principais resultados são que as pesquisas anteriores sobre o "efeito vizinhança" atribuíram à vizinhança elementos vinculados à exclusão social, incluso quando estes processos não são criados pela própria vizinhança, mas são o resultado de processos extraterritoriais e extra locais.

Palavras–chave: Juventude urbana –{TE2_125}–, comunidade urbana –{UP_129}–, subúrbio –{TE_45}– (Thesaurus de Ciências Sociais da Unesco). Palavras–chave autores: Estado, política pública, efeito de vizinhança.



1. Introduction


The choice of what neighborhood to live in is an important decision for anyone. Every citizen wants their children to live and grow in a good neighborhood. A neighborhood where there is a good atmosphere, the streets are safe, there are quality public services (especially schools), there is a good network of both shops and transport, etc. The consideration of bad neighborhood is applied to those where, for example, there is a remarkable shortage of quality public facilities, there are processes of physical deterioration, or show a concentration of people in poverty. All these features are considered as a negative influence on the quality of life and opportunities for their children. In recent years the concern for the creation of ghettos has experienced a considerable growth in Europe, especially due to the youth riots that have taken place in various European cities, mainly featuring young people living in deprived neighborhoods of large cities like Paris, London or Athens. Such events are a reflection of a latent unrest among young people, mainly characterized by the lack of future expectations related to the casualization of the labor market, the social segregation and the weakening of community ties. This impoverishes the quality of life of the population in general, and particularly that of the youth, and increases the vulnerability1 of these groups to experience situations of marginalization and social exclusion.

In short, both key elements of this text –youth and neighborhood– are of concern to European governments today, so this paper addresses a significant issue of contemporary and sociological relevance.

The influence of the neighborhood on the attitudes, behaviors and life paths of those living in it has been an object of study relevant to urban sociology since the early twentieth century. Classical literature analyzes the effects of the neighborhood in the reality of U.S. cities, from deterministic approach, through the concepts of ghetto and segregation. From Chicago School, works such as Wirth (1956) consider the neighborhood (the ghetto) as the mechanism of integration of a subject in their community. In order to supplement the traditional Chicago School, the neomarxist perspective (Gans, 1968 and Harvey, 2007 –{1977}–) analyzes the neighborhood in terms of economic impact and its connection with structural processes and higher urban and administrative frameworks. These analysis show that living in a specific neighborhood has important effects on accessibility issues, proximity of services and their quality, which has not only significant economic costs but also time and mentality costs). Other studies that have analyzed the communities from the perspective of social networks (Granovetter, 1973, Putnam, 1993a, 1993b, 2000) have focused on the influence of territory in the configuration of social capital and on its impact in the access to certain social spatial (Bourdieu, 1999, Foster, Pitner, Freedman, Bell & Shaw 2015); this concept refers to social networks, specific contacts, information and opportunities. Later, in the mid– 90s, other studies appeared (Jencks & Mayer, 1990, Brooks–Gunn, Duncan, Kato & Sealand, 1993, Saraví, 2004) that presented an analysis of neighborhood effects focused on issues such as child development, the academic outcomes and juvenile behavior. And recently, authors like Sampson (2012) and Goering (2013) reaffirm the current relevance of the neighborhood as a social mechanism, which influences significantly the configuration of both individual and collective perceptions and behaviors within and outside the neighborhood, and as a result it defines the social structure of the city. In addition, recent works (Musterd, Murie & Kesteloot, 2006, Kennett & Forrest, 2006) recall that the neighborhood is a traditional unit of social integration, and argue that it can also be a favored mechanism for the development of strategies to fight against social exclusion, and new forms of solidarity, integration and social cohesion (Forrest & Kearns, 2001, Bridge, 2006), especially in a rescaling context of the State and its welfare policies.

Considering the contributions of the different perspectives of neighborhood effects analysis, and focusing on the main gaps evidenced by recent literature (Musterd et al., 2006, Arbaci & Rae, 2013, Slater, 2013, Sharkey & Faber, 2014): –a)to focus the analysis exclusively in territorial variables revolving around the neighborhood ignoring extra–local mechanisms (welfare state, social or housing policies); b) not showing an unanimous opinion with regard to which are the main neighborhood effect mechanisms at work –the questions that this theoretical paper addresses are two: first, to present a systematic and critical review of different authors about the neighborhood effect and the State’s role in the life paths of young people; and second, to introduce reflections, contributions and nuances that have emerged from an empirical work, with the intention of advancing the conceptual reflection of phenomena such as neighborhood effect and processes of youth social exclusion on the outskirts of the city2.

This paper is part of a larger investigation, which corresponds to the doctoral thesis. Such research analyzes what aspects of the four neighborhoods have a critical influence on the personal and social development, as well as the careers, of young people between 16 and 24 living in them. We attempt to describe how is that influence and which are the mechanisms at work. The analysis conducted, unlike many in the literature reviewed, studies young people at the local micro–level, while taking into account the city and the impact of local institutions in the neighborhood. Besides, the analysis is located in a geographical context that has been little explored in these studies, primarily focused on American or Anglo–Saxon cities and paying little attention to the cities of southern Europe.

Barcelona and Milan have been chosen as a study case in our investigation because they share several relevant aspects regarding the comparison and the investigation: i) They are two European cities with an important international projection, mainly due to their economic and business activity, and their sociocultural dynamism. ii) They are not the capital of the country, but both are economic engines in their countries, and their economic development is closely related to their urban, demographic and social development. iii) Both cities belong to the southern area of Europe and are capitals of the region (Barcelona in Catalonia, and Milan in Lombardy). iv) Barcelona and Milan are part of the welfare system, defined by experts as familial welfare states. v) Both cities have received important immigration flows from other areas within Spain and Italy, respectively, during the 1950s and 1960s. It is precisely during that period when the sample neighborhoods were configured. vi) Barcelona and Milan both have diversified their economies after the industrial restructuration, creating jobs by promoting the tertiary sector in the city centre, which has attracted an increasing number of foreign immigrants.

The methodology chosen is the comparative case study. The comparative study we have undertaken includes four working class neighborhoods in the periphery; two of them in Barcelona, and the other two in Milan (see table 1). Additionally, the comparison has focused mainly on the socio–demographic characteristics, labour market characteristics, educational levels, school models, social network, community involvement and the characteristics of familial welfare systems in general and of youth policies in particular.



A comprehensive methodological strategy has been used to develop this research. It combines quantitative analysis –using census data and the municipal register of inhabitants–, qualitative analysis– from gathering information through 39 thematic semi–structured interviews address to professionals, 178 structured interviews to young people, and systematic participant observation collected in a field journal– and the comparative analysis between cities, neighbourhoods and young people.

In the following pages we address these questions and develop our argument following four steps: First, we expose the urban processes that explain the increase of social vulnerability in contemporary European societies. Second, we address the increase of social vulnerability risk among young people and the State response, particularly in the case of Spain and Italy. Third, we analyze the neighborhood effect and youth social exclusion in European cities. And finally, we present the main considerations of neighborhood effect and its influences on young people in the context of European cities in general, and in those in Southern Europe in particular.


Critical revision of literature

Explanatory urban processes of the rise of social vulnerability in contemporary European societies

In European societies the relationship between market and state has changed. This change has led to bring into question the effectiveness of traditional social integration systems: labor market, family, and community. As a result, an important increase of social inequalities and spatial segregation has been taking place. The flexibility of labor market and the restructuring process of social protection systems have been accompanied by an increase in the number of vulnerable groups of population with high risk of poverty and social exclusion (temporary or long–lasting). The new patterns of social inequality, although tempered by social policies and welfare regimes, are based on new types of employment, greater social diversity and ethnic segregation as well (Body– Gedrot, García & Mingione, 2012, p. 18).

Despite the differences between the American ghetto and disadvantaged neighborhoods, research on social exclusion and neighborhood effects in precarious or disadvantaged European neighborhoods3 has significantly increased since the second half of the 90s, coinciding with evidence of an increased spatial and social polarization, coupled with evidence of school segregation, exacerbates the ethnic and racial tensions that take place in disadvantaged neighborhoods (Silver, 2012, Ellen, Steil & De la Roca, 2016). In European cities, social disadvantages are concentrated in the suburbs, unlike what happens in the cities of USA. In this context, European authors such as Atkinson and Kintrea (2001), Buck (2001) have pointed out that the neighborhood can help accentuate social exclusion. They argue that living in a precarious neighborhood, in the current socio–economic time, reduces the quality of life of its residents since they see themselves forced to live in a disadvantage situation in comparison with other citizens. In fact, living in a disadvantaged neighborhood does not mean just living in a neighborhood with poor physical conditions, but it also means having limited educational opportunities (Gordon & Monastiriotis, 2006, Butler & Hamnett, 2007, Butler, Hamnett & Ramsden, 2013), difficulties finding a job (Rodríguez, 2004, Pinkster, 2012), access to scarce public services and quality equipments, or suffering the effects of residence stigma. That is, a set of conditions that hinder the optimal development of critical paths that approach the individual to the social integration and to the enjoyment of full citizenship. Consequently, the problems of urban marginality are more and more present in European policy agendas. These issues are on the political agenda (and social policies) because they threaten to become chronic problems and because they challenge traditional modes of citizenship (Lagrange & Oberti, 2006, García, 2006, Wacquant, 2007).

The current debate on social exclusion in urban peripheries focuses on the tensions between neighborhood and city, and on thinking about how to stop social and spatial accumulation of economic hardship, social fragmentation and loss of social cohesion. Social exclusion has been perceived, as Paugam (2013) defends, as a process of social disqualification. It is understood as a rupture of the social bond, or as a process of decreasing participation in a civic culture, access to institutions and practice of solidarity. This is seen as a relational experience rather than as a loss of experience resources under redistribution (Silver, 2007). This perception is limiting, since the analysis of the processes that generate social exclusion is enriched by examining resource redistribution systems and by observing exclusionary dynamics and defining the mechanisms of exclusion in an operational way (Murie, 2005). When these mechanisms are analyzed, it can be observed that social exclusion occurs when the structures and agencies which maximize the efficiency and the social justice are broken.

In spite of social justice the city can be seen more as a horizon than as a reality. It is important to remember that when redistributive social policies (social housing, community facilities, transport subsidies, family services) are developed, the negative effects that have an impact on the increase of inequality and social exclusion processes are minimised (Harvey, 2007).

In addition to the segmentation and the rise in precariousness in the labor market, which affects the whole population in general and young people in particular, and influences intensely their future plans (emancipation household, creating your own family…), it is important to consider also the weakening of the community. In European countries, and especially in southern European countries, it can be seen that working class neighborhoods, traditionally characterized by being very homogeneous, with a high level of solidarity and internal cohesion, now no longer have this above–mentioned high degree of homogeneity or intense neighborhood solidarity ties. Neighborhood community as a social agent in the post –industrial society has undergone several processes: i). Changes in traditional family roles; ii). Constant fragmentation, polarization and invasion– succession processes. The first process is characterized by the change of traditional family roles, in which the figure of the woman as the linchpin of social cohesion, not only familiar but also in the community is weakened by having to juggle home and precarious employment4. The latter process is linked to continuous population movements and their subsequent settlement in the city. This settlement is mainly determined by the price of housing, which has favoured the concentration of disadvantaged families, both socially and economically, in areas of the city where housing prices are lower. These areas tend to correspond, in the European context, with large housing5 neighborhoods and peripheral neighborhoods with a low level of integration in the whole city.

These processes contribute, on the one hand, to dilute the collective identity and the sense of community, and on the other hand, to promote the territorial concentration of people in a situation of social and economic difficulties. Erosion and dislocation of community life may also explain the gradual loss of strength of the neighborhood movement and its role as integrator agent.

In short, the processes of social exclusion in cities are linked to the changes that have taken place in the relationship between state and market, and to the consequences of these transformations in the urban context. The emergence of disadvantaged neighborhoods is therefore related to: (a) socio– professional duality; (b) wage instability and social insecurity (compared to full employment in the Fordist era ); (c) tendency to eliminate the use of low–skilled workforce and increase in long–term unemployment; (d) deterioration of working conditions (flexible contracts linked to the service sector compared to stable and permanent contracts of the previous period); (e) functional disconnection of macro–economic trends (social conditions and possibilities for improvements in the quality of life in working class neighborhoods of the United States and Europe were relatively little affected by the economic prosperity of the 80s and early 90s, but have been severely hurt by economic downturns ); (f) the restructuring of the welfare state (cuts in social policies and social coverage accompanying parallel tax cuts), which helps to emphasize the stigmatization and isolation of the most vulnerable, and perpetuates the concentration of precariousness; (g) stigmatization; and, (h) disruption of traditional claim mechanisms (Body–Gedrot et al., 2012, Beck,1998, Wacquant, 2008).

Processes of social exclusion of young people in European cities: increasing inequality and state response

The transformations that are taking place in the relations between state and market, which have been previously explained, are contributing to the emergence of increased social inequalities in the whole population, and increased social vulnerability in certain social groups particularly those including young people.

The increase of social inequalities and social vulnerability among young people are accentuated in countries like Spain and Italy. These countries have welfare regimes characterized by the leading role of the family as a source for resources and social protection against the weak role of the state and an intense process of rescaling of social policies. In these contexts, the State tends to delegate all responsibility to the family in order to support younger generations in their life paths and only in extreme cases does the State participate. In these cases significant limitations and gaps in key fields for configuring youth paths, such as education, employment and housing, are evidenced. These evidences show a significant incompetence of the State in overcoming inequalities as a result of family background, and a tendency to reproduce them (Flaquer, 2004, Andreotti & Mingione, 2013).

In countries where the welfare system is relatively weak, youth needs are often not considered as priority issues, nor have many young people access to many social rights (with the exception of primary and secondary education, and healthcare). These social exclusion processes are perceived as specific problems of the young population. This explains that youth policies are considered necessary (Patón, 2005).

In other words, when a universal need is not met by the welfare model, and that need is especially present among young people, specific organizations are often generated to give support to this social group, by defining and implementing youth policies in order to solve the problems that the rest of social policies can’t solve. By contrast, when a country has an effective occupation policy for the whole population and universal minimum income, youth occupation policies are not necessary.

It is for all these arguments, because the emergence of specific policies on youth as a way to alleviate the limitations of welfare regimes in its coverage of key issues for the life trajectories of young people (education, training, work and housing), is considered an aspect that promotes social vulnerability among youth.

Regarding the rescaling process of the State, it’s worth pointing out that although it is theoretically presented as a multilevel model of decision–making and management, which aims to define social policies closer to the reality and whose implementation is more effective and participatory, on practice it leads to a number of effects, such as a tendency to segregation and stigmatization, that differ significantly from these theoretical principles underpinning its construction.

The multilevel governance model proposed by the rescaling of the State implies an increasing importance of the local level in the definition and implementation of social welfare policies. The change in welfare systems from central to local level is a complex and diversified process. This not only implies a change in the delegation of responsibilities, but it also requires a change in the control structure policies and a pluralization of actors involved in the provision of social care (Andreotti, García, Gómez, Hespanha, Kazepov & Mingione, 2001). However, when essential conditions are not present in the process of adjustment (for instance, a clear role of public local actors and forms of collaboration, a clear division of financial responsibilities among levels of government and local government access to established national funding) it is possible that paradoxically welfare systems do not lead to more efficient mechanisms in promoting social cohesion. On the contrary, they tend to weaken the guarantees of social protection, mainly due to the lack of ability to control local governments, territorial fragmentation, and the increase on local and urban inequalities (Andreotti & Mingione, 2013).

In short, the lack of coordination among sectors and administrative levels leads to highly specific and reductionist social policies and programs on youth that run the risk of generating segregation and stigmatization tendencies, which does not facilitate the fight against youth social exclusion.

In summary, the increased vulnerability of young people to experience vulnerable social situations in the context of European cities (especially in southern European countries) is partly the result of: 1). the inability of the State in developing effective social policies for the whole population, including young people. This fact tends to be attributed exclusively at young people, but on practice these certain needs and/or social problems are shared mostly by the whole population; and, 2). mismatches in the model of multilevel governance within the framework of the rescaling of social policies, which derive in inefficient policies and programs in youth area in terms of equal opportunities and the fight against youth social exclusion.


2. Reflections about neighborhood effect and youth social exclusion in European cities

The interest in the neighborhood and its effects on the resident population is not a new issue, but it has been a topic of interest to academics and policy makers from the early twentieth century. However, the European interest in this issue has increased markedly in the last decade, especially as a consequence of the youth riots occurred in some European cities like Paris or London.

As we referenced in the introduction, the classical perspective of the neighborhood effect assumes that knowing the context of residence helps to understand the behavior of people. In the same way, several studies, Wilson (1987, 1997), Jencks and Mayer (1990), Brooks–Gunn et al. (1993), Ellen and Turner (1997) and Sampson (2012), show that living in a deprived area has negative effects that reduce the quality of life of its residents and their chances in life.

Concerning the perspective of the neighborhood effect, works like Saraceno (2001); Gornick and Meyers (2003) warn that social vulnerability and the risk of social exclusion in the adult population directly influence the current and future opportunities of their children, and therefore, their current pathways. Hence, these authors argue that in neighborhoods where precarious situations and social disadvantage concentrate, not only adults are in a process of risk of vulnerability and social exclusion, but also the children and young people living in these contexts.

In this regard, numerous researches (Jencks & Mayer, 1990, Buck, 2001, Webber & Butler, 2007) have studied how neighborhood and youth show that young people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods have levels of school performance and future expectations significantly lower compared to their peers in the context of the city. According to these authors, the neighborhood is the closest opportunity system, regardless of the family, young people can access. This is why it is considered a priori as a considerably influential element in the quality of life of young people and in their future projection. These experts argue that growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood influences the learning that young people acquire, as well as the norms and values exhibited by the people they admire and emulate, etc.; in short, the background that young people have often results in concrete behavior patterns that are usually considered problematic by the most of society.

The head of a community care team working in a suburb north–east of Barcelona explains that the environment provides such contexts and their referents are hardly encouraging for young people. In his opinion, taking into account that everyone builds and plans their vital itinerary based on the environment with which they interact, it’s easy to understand why the majority of young people who live in this neighborhood do not have many aspirations for the future. For example, they don’t want to study or to get involved in community life because what they see every day is that hardly anyone of their peers or relatives are studying or have studied; instead, most of them are working in the underground economy, or even illegal. Therefore, he claims that it is very difficult to break and modify the glass ceiling6 in relation to their future prospects. In the same way, the principal of a public high school located in the same neighborhood as the previous interviewee, explains that it is difficult for the school center to change certain habits and behaviors of young people, such as not being punctual, or sometimes behaving disrespectfully or uncivilly, when this type of behavior is legitimized and accepted by their immediate environment (family and friends). In fact, this principal says that many of these guys distinguish between the behavior and the rules governing such conduct in the street and in social institutions (schools, social services).

The literature reflects that the main mechanisms of influence in the shaping of the reality above mentioned are: 1) Environmental mechanisms (physical public space conservation, provision of equipment); 2) Collective socialization (focusing on adult references, reputation inter–neighborhood and in the whole city); 3) Influence of the peer group, and 4). Institutional influence (concerning the type of social actors operating in the territory and the kind of actions performed).

Several studies, both from the sociology of education (Willis, 1977, Bernstein, 1988, Bourdieu, 2000, Anderson & Subramanian, 2006, Cano–Hila, Sánchez & Massot, 2016) and from urban sociology (Skifter, 2003, Oberti & Pétreceille, 2004, Butler & Hamnett, 2007, Oberti & Jacobs, 2007, Urban, 2009, Butler et al., 2013) focus their analysis on neighborhood effect, social inequality and youth social exclusion on the influence exercised by institutions (institutional influence), and particularly in school. This influence has been analysed from different points of view: parental school choice, admission criteria of pupils by schools and, the resultant processes of these decisions in terms of socio–spatial and educational issues. Furthermore, although to a lesser extent, there are also works that incorporate the analysis of the influence played by social institutions, such as neighborhood associations, youth associations or sports groups (Sampson, Morenoff & Gannon–Rowley, 2002, Oberwittler, 2004, Henao & Pinilla, 2009, Cano–Hila, 2011).

The focus of studies about institutional influence becomes more important in the context of the rescaling of the State and social policies. In this context, the neighborhood is not only considered a space of socialization and social integration for young people, but it is also an actor with an important role in the development and implementation of social policies (including youth policies), as well as measures to combat urban marginality and social exclusion.

Much of the work focused on the neighborhood effect from the point of view of the institutional influence argues that institutions (schools and universities) located in disadvantaged contexts polarize ethnic and social differences (Oberti & Pétreceille, 2004, Oberti & Jacobs, 2007). This polarization is due to school segregation processes that govern the use of the free time and it is mainly caused by the withdrawal of the middle classes from these institutions. Some testimonies explain that they do not participate in the youth center in his neighborhood because he is neither an immigrant nor a poor and he does not have any social problem. On the other hand, other interviewees say that they are not interested in engaging in the social cooperative that works with young people in their territory because they do not like either the companies or the range of activities developed, which they consider unappealing and marginal.

As a result, these centers tend to show a concentration of disadvantaged families and social groups, which in parallel; causes a decline in the expectations about the future of these young people and their performance scores. To change this trend it has been proposed to focus on providing a level of quality that is attractive to the middle classes, thus trying to reduce their exodus. Some interviewed professionals say that social segregation in the school is becoming more and more evident, and that it often responds to the application of some political decisions that favor certain types of schools over others, such as enrollment criteria of students, and to poorly founded prejudices and perceptions by families in relation to the educational quality of the schools based on their location and the characteristics of students in terms of socioeconomic and cultural background (Cano–Hila, 2015).

Now, much of this work has proposed three important issues in the analysis of neighborhood effects and youth social exclusion, in particular, when the focus is placed on the analysis of the situation in contexts in which the State has a weak role and that, at the same time, are experiencing an intense rescaling process of social policies such as some southern European cities like Barcelona and Milan (Cano–Hila, 2015).

The first issue is that, as pointed out by Paugam (2013), Wacquant (2007, 2008) and Sampson (2012), the neighborhood is not an urban unit in isolation but is linked to urban processes; at social, political, economic and local, national and transnational levels.

The second issue is that the measures on youth, which are part of youth policies and other social policies (employment, education…), are strongly defined by the welfare regime model present in each context.

The way young people are conceived (either as a resource or as a problem), and the place assigned to them on the political agenda, together with the importance given to them in the affairs of the country, largely define the funding, prioritization and commitment of governments to young people and youth policies. All this, beyond the limited capabilities of innovation, in terms of combating social exclusion that can perform local stakeholders, significantly configures the system and future opportunities that young people have. Therefore, we consider that it is important that the analysis include the study of the systems around the young people so that the study of the mechanisms that influence the development of youth is not limited to the concrete reality of the neighborhood of residence, but it is complemented with the analysis of the legislative regulations concerning youth, in the context of welfare and rescaling regimes.

Finally, the third important issue is that programs (both school and education in the field of leisure time) are not a result of a unilateral decision by the social agents located in neighborhoods, but they are in line with the guidelines and policies formulated in superior physical and administrative frameworks to the neighborhood (from the European Union to the city, to the country and the region) (Rodríguez, 2007). This multilevel dependence is one of the characteristics of the multilevel governance model that rescaling processes promote. However, as noted in the previous section, this complex model management and implementation of policies requires high levels of coordination between administrations, as well as clearly defined roles and responsibilities with regard to decision– making and financing and an agreement on objectives and methodologies. When one of these requirements is not met, the model has shortcomings, some of which can lead to the emergence of trends or unwanted processes such as segregation and stigmatization.


3. Conclusions

In European societies the relationship between the market and the state has changed, which is leading to an increase of inequality and social vulnerability, especially among young people. This increase in social vulnerability is territorially represented in traditional bluecollar suburbs, built as a result of an economic boom to accommodate immigrants from the economically less developed areas. For this reason, young people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods of European cities are a growing concern for European governments. In fact, as we said in the introduction, in recent years this concern has increased significantly, especially as a consequence of the youth riots in different European cities, coinciding with evidence of increased polarization and social fragmentation in cities of the European Union.

In this context, the neighborhood is located in the center of current debates on social exclusion. This is a consequence, in part, of the processes of rescaling, in which they have been designated as a space and an essential mechanism in the analysis of these processes, as well as an actor in the development of urban and social regeneration policies, which are intended as an antidote configuration to new manifestations of urban marginality.

But even though the neighborhood is an influential element in youth paths while system refers to the nearest opportunities that young people have, as well as a context of socialization and social integration mechanism, we have seen as literature have been attributed to a number of adverse effects, generate social exclusion, although taking place in the neighborhood are not produced by him, but are the result of extralocal processes and extra– territorial.

Extra–local processes are linked to the consequences of public policies (such as the injustices inherent in letting the market, buttressed by the state, be the force that determines the cost of housing and therefore being the major determinant of where people live (Slater, 2013) and, the transformation processes in the city (such as invasionsuccession process), which hinder the integration of these neighborhoods in the entire city and thus exacerbate the vulnerability of these neighborhoods and, consequently, of its residents.

Extra– territorial processes relate to problems of coordination between administrations in implementing policies and programs on youth. These problems expose chinks in the emergence of undesired effects such as segregation and stigmatization of certain groups (mostly, the recipients of specific measures for groups at risk of social exclusion). These effects call into question the real impact of such social initiatives, taking into account that the vast majority intend to fight against social inequality and vulnerability in general and among young people in particular.

In summary, throughout this paper we have shown how the relationship between youth and residence in a disadvantaged neighborhood that the literature on neighborhood effect has established, especially in the North American context, has no satisfactory correspondence in the analysis of European cities, particularly of those in southern Europe that develop regionalization processes of social policies. In these cases, we have observed that the effects of social exclusion generators, which have been traditionally attributed to poor neighborhoods, are not produced by the neighborhood itself but they are the result of: i). the ineffectiveness of social and redistribution policies; ii). certain urban processes , and iii). coordination constraints placed by multilevel governance models under the rescaling of the states, which give rise to actions that generate involuntary segregation and stigmatization processes.

Given these processes, we propose here a line of work able to analyze the increase in youth social vulnerability, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods. This line of work includes the analysis of the particular reality not only of the neighborhood, but also: i). of the city in which it is located and the urban processes that directly impact in terms of social inequality; ii). Of those aspects of welfare regimes and general policies, which are key for an optimal development of the paths that lead to the vital social integration of youth and to the enjoyment of a full citizenship, and iii). Of the management models and the implementation of social policies, with particular emphasis on issues related to coordination inside the government and the division of roles and responsibilities.

In other words, we propose to advance in the analysis of the neighborhood effect model and youth social exclusion. In this sense, we propose to supplement the traditional Chicago School model with the Neomarxist contributions and with the conclusions contributed by more recent works, such as those of Paugam (2013); Wacquant (2007, 2008); Sampson (2012), which connect the neighborhood with higher urban and administrative frameworks (city, region , country, European Union).

Finally, concerning how to address the problems of urban marginality, which is an issue of the highest importance for young people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods and a matter of concern to European governments, we consider that an interesting course of action is: a). to stop raising exceptional measures specifically aimed at youth or disadvantaged neighborhoods as if they were a problem and b). to include the needs of young people in general and public policies, and to ensure that these policies are effective and efficient in their definition and implementation.




* This reflection paper is a synthesis of research "Procesos de integración y exclusión social juvenil en las periferias de Barcelona y Milán", presented by the author to aim for the title of Phd in Sociology. University of Barcelona 2011. The research was funded by Ibercaja Bank; Ministry of Education, Government of Spain (EDU/2933/2009); and Catalan Agency of Youth (2010FJOVE00002). This research was developed between September 2009 and November 2011. Area: Sociology; subarea: Sociology.

1 The concept of vulnerability refers to the diversity of intermediate situations and the process by which there is a risk of increasing the exclusion space. It identifies individuals that, due to their limited access to tangible and intangible assets, are at risk of sudden and significant changes in their living standards (Fundación Foessa, 2008, p. 15).

2 With the intention to be consistent with the nature of this paper, which is presented as a theoretical paper based on both a literature review and a previous empirical study, the primary and secondary data are not explicitly set out, but reflections and nuances arise from them.

3 We understand by disadvantaged urban neighborhoods those contexts that are isolated physically from the rest of the city, have low (or no) external social media presence, and also few production and consumption centers. These neighborhoods show physical deterioration and social exclusion dynamics (Buck, 2001, Atkinson & Kintrea, 2001, Bridge, 2006).

4 Traditionally women, especially in southern European countries, have played a key role in family and community cohesion. In recent decades, women have entered the labor market combining family responsibilities with employment. This situation has influenced the rise of the vulnerability in many households, and consequently it affects community cohesion in the neighborhoods of workers in large cities (Cano & García, 2012).

5 Neighborhoods planned by the state or with state support.

6 A glass ceiling is a term used to describe the unseen, yet unbreakable barrier that keeps groups from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder regardless of their qualifications or achievements.





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