Young People’s Participation in Fiji: Understanding Conceptualizations and Experiences

Young people’s participation has become a cliché in western democracies. In the case of Fiji, it is a novel concept, not because young people have not participated before but because they are exposed to new and different ways of involvement. This paper is one of the earliest attempts to explore young people’s understanding and experiences of participation in Fiji. It is based on data drawn from an exploratory study conducted with a select group of young people in Suva, Fiji. Forms of young people’s engagement although diverse are dominated by the traditional discourse of participation represented in ‘performance and responsibility’ and tend to be represented in the media and policy circles.

This paper shows that young people are not bound by these conceptions but talk of participation as experienced in the hybridised settings of their everyday reality. The study offers a window into understanding young people’s participation in Fiji and suggests that a deeper appreciation of this facet of their lives can be achieved with an emphasis on participatory talk with and an exploration of spaces where young people are constantly negotiating the traditional expectations of being young, being dutiful citizens and self-directed individuals.