“Everything starts with youth and their will to participate freely in activities.” Ethnography and discourse analysis about art and culture in youth centers in Montreal and Helsinki

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
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As an art educator and researcher who worked with youth in the community, I was interested in the art and cultural purposes of youth centers. Originally from Montreal(Canada), I conducted this study there as well as in Helsinki (Finland). In looking at these social-engaged spaces based in communities, the purpose of this thesis is to analyze how art and culture might take place in these informal learning contexts. I based my research on Bourdieu’s notion of symbolic violence, on youth psychosocial development and art education in the community theories to create in-depth knowledge about this topic and ask: What are the social and political discourses regarding youth centers in Montreal and Helsinki? How might access to art and culture in youth centers in Helsinki and Montreal affect a youth’s individual and social development? The hypothesis is favourable toward the benefits of art and culture on youth from individuals implied in these spaces but also recognizes there are sometimes misrecognitions about their purposes from populations and institutions. In this thesis, two forms of ethnography and discourse analysis are used. Additionally, I analyzed observations and stories from interviews with individuals who work and used to work in and for youth centers. In addition, comic art is used as a tool to contextualize the results. The results reveal several social and political discourses about youth centers and confirm the positive impacts on youth regarding access to art and culture in these spaces, as well as the misrecognitions they might face. This study is designed to create awareness regarding the access of youth to art and cultural activities for their development, regardless of the intersectionalities of their background.
Brinck, Jaana
Thesis advisor
Tavin, Kevin
youth centers, ethnography, informal learning, art education, sociology, discourse analysis
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