The project (ICYVOL) investigates the factors that beyond individual and family resources generate inequalities in children and youth participation in organized leisure activities. Indeed, children and youth participation in organized leisure activities has positive effects on their psycho-social development and life chances and contributes as well to the prevention of health and social problems. However, children and youth participation in organized leisure activities declines with their age and varies considerably across socioeconomic and ethnic groups.
Examining inequalities beyond individual and family resources entails taking into account aggregated socioeconomic factors at the neighborhood level, the supply of activities by local voluntary organization, as well as the effects of national and local public policies.
To this purpose, the project, firstly, investigates the effect of neighborhood inequalities on participation in organized leisure activities. Secondly, it examines the organizational barriers and drivers of participation at the local level. Thirdly, it studies the influence of national and local policies on participation in organized leisure activities, looking particularly at the local implementation of the "leisure-card" - a voucher scheme to spend on leisure activities. Finally, the project?in cooperation with partner municipalities (Oslo and Haugesund) and partner voluntary organizations (Frivillighet Norge and LNU)? elaborates a practical toolkit that will support practitioners? learning and innovation capacities.
For this purpose, the project uses survey and census data combined with qualitative investigations based on interviews and documents analyses, at the individual and local community levels. Additionally, it uses use a quasi-experimental design in relation to the current implementation of the "leisure-card" scheme.
Empirical studies underscore the positive influence of structured leisure activities on children and young’s various developmental outcomes, including enhancement of quality of life, social networks and self-efficacy; civic engagement and future life chances and working life opportunities in adulthood; and prevention of social marginalization as well as mental health and problem behavior. Several studies have demonstrated a clear correlation between participation and levels of economic, social and cultural capital in the family. However, there is a lack of knowledge about mechanisms that lead to inequality in participation and how these evolve across time and contexts. Because most organized leisure activities take place in the local community of which youth reside, accounting for participation inequalities must include the local opportunity structures. ICYVOL, through an interactive research approach –where scholars and practitioners in the voluntary sector (LNU; Frivilighet Norge) and local authorities (Municipalities of Oslo and Haugesund)— as well as an innovative research design, will generate new data across levels and enable the study of cross-levels effects. The project will advance the fields of social inclusion, neighborhood effects, nonprofit organizations, and policy implementation with a novel research design to produce new knowledge about the mechanisms that enhance and hinder social inclusion of children and young in leisure activities. ICYVOL will investigate empirically: (i) How individual and family characteristics interact with community characteristics in explaining youth’ participation in organized leisure; (ii) How the structure of the organizational landscape and organizational strategies in different communities influence the inclusion of youth in organized leisure; and (iii) How national and local policies affect the inclusion of youth in organized leisure in different local communities.