Investigating Youth Policies through the Lens of Public Narratives: Comparing China and Europe

Xuan Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article innovatively adopts the public narrative analysis to deepen the understanding of youth policy as the historically contingent product of cultural, historical, and geopolitical factors, rather than as a universal given. Drawing upon insights from Marshall Ganz’s three elements of the public narrative, namely the Story of Self, Story of Us, and Story of Now, the study theorizes the dialectic linkage between public narratives and policy. Through investigations of China’s Well-off Society China Dream narratives, followed by Europe’s Nobel Peace and New Narrative, this study carries out a comparative analysis of the latest narratives and the latest youth policies in Europe and China. Three thematic aspects are explored: the narrative positions, the fundamental attributes of the youth policies, and the relationships between the Story of Us and the Story of Self. Youth civic engagement is found to be of secondary relevance to youth technology capacity-building in China’s Youth Development Plan (2016–2025), whereas youth civic engagement plays a key role in Europe’s new EU Youth Strategy (2019–2027), in which the Story of Us serves the interests of the Story of Self.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)614-633
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Public narrative
  • Youth civic engagement
  • Youth policy
  • Youth technology

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