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Session Overview
RN30_04c_H: Social Movements and Political Action
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Siyka Kostadinova Kovacheva, Paisii Hilendarski University of Plovdiv
Location: HA.2.6
HAROKOPIO University 70 El. Venizelou Street 17671 Athens, Greece Building: A, Level: 2.

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Instrumentalisation of Youth Political and Civic Participation in Serbia

Dragan Stanojevic, Jelisaveta Petrovic

Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia

This paper deals with the instrumentalisation of political and civic participation of young people in Serbia. The social context of Serbia (and the Western Balkans, more broadly) is characterized by very high rates of unemployment (with public sector still being a major employer), low trust in institutions, party clientelism and patronage. This paper aims to shed the light on the young people’s perception of political opportunities and agency that is bounded with structural and cultural constraints. In this way, the focus of the theoretical debate on political activity of young people is moved from the "proactive political action” perspective to the observation that young people’s agency can also be instrumentally and commercially oriented.

The analysis is based on qualitative data gathered in the in-depth interviews with young people (N=30), aged 25-30 years, who are members of political parties and/or civic associations.

The research findings show that, in search for better career prospects young people tend to adapt to the context by accepting certain informal "rules of the game". Young people often become part of the clientelist networks as they perceive it necessary for their future employment. In this regard, young people adopt several strategies: 1. Passive membership in political parties, 2. activism within parties (which expends from occasional activities during the campaign to almost daily duties). 3. Volunteer in civil associations and similar initiatives in order to gain experience and connections as important job requirements. In this way, they become an important asset of political parties and civic organizations which, in return, promise them employment or career enhancement.

Key words: political participation, civic participation, youth, clientelism.

Here to Stay: Undocumented Young People in the USA, Political Activism and Citizenship

Ala Sirrriyeh

Keele University, United Kingdom

Restrictive immigration and citizenship policies across the Global North mean that young people who arrived during a period of growth in international migration have grown up into adulthood in these nation states yet legally remain ‘noncitizens’. In the early 2000s the undocumented youth movement emerged in the USA to campaign for a pathway to citizenship for undocumented young people who had arrived in the USA as children. In recent years there has been an evolution in campaign messaging and a shift in some of the key priorities and goals. Through a southern California case study, drawing on Biographical Narrative Interviews with undocumented young activists, this paper examines young activists’ narratives of entry into, and pathways through, political activism and explores how their understandings and experiences of citizenship shape, and are shaped by, political activism. The study was informed by ‘acts of citizenship’ theory (Isin 2008) which examines how citizenship is mediated between lived experiences and formal entitlements This paper traces how and why young people became involved in the undocumented youth movement and pathways through the movement, including branches of the movement they became active in (e.g. undocuqueer, undocublack, campus or community based groups) and how the election of Donald Trump is shaping young people’s current engagement with political activism. In doing so it examines how activism has influenced young activists’ normative understandings of the concept of ‘citizenship’ and what it means to act and be recognised as a ‘citizen’ with a focus on the notion of ‘emotional citizenship’.

Emerging Incentives for Youth Participation in Bulgaria

Boris Petrov Popivanov1,2

1New Europe Center, Bulgaria; 2St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia

The decline of youth participation in society and politics has often been mentioned as one of the symptoms of an overall crisis of representative democracy across Europe. In Bulgaria, these trends go parallel to the difficulties of post-communist development. Policy makers have recently addressed the problem with new strategies, programmes and initiatives. What is less analyzed are the perceptions of participation of young people themselves, their views on the forms and spaces for their engagement or alienation.

In this paper we focus on the emerging incentives for youth participation in the second largest Bulgarian city and try to outline the factors of motivation as young people see them, in multiple directions: institutional framework, public attitudes, personal commitment, foreign examples. Those are considered in relation with the forms of participation (traditional and non-traditional) which are subsequently generated as living experiences of the Bulgarian youth.

The empirical work is done under a project funded by the European Commission. In order to grasp the changes in the youth situation, we apply a variety of qualitative methods: in-depth and biographical interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation surveys, action research projects developed by the young people with the support of the research team.

Citizenship education: meanings of young activists and attitudes of youth policy makers

Airi-Alina Allaste1, Mai Beilmann2

1Tallinn University, Estonia; 2University of Tartu, Estonia

Citizenship education has become relevant within the discourse of active citizenship that has become most relevant approach in last quarter of 20 century. While social citizenship based on idea that all members of a community have the right for similar welfare and state should decrease inequalities, then active citizenship model supports development of skills that were deemed necessary for labour market participation but equally so also supporting people’s civic activism. The framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010–2018) stresses the importance of improving young people’s opportunities in education and labour market as well as promotes active citizenship and solidarity. However, there is no shared understanding of how young people should acquire skills, attitudes and knowledge required.

This paper brings together views of young people and youth policy makers on citizenship education in Estonia focusing first on the meanings active young people give to their learning themselves and then discussing the standpoints of adults in charge of the topic. Empirical part of the paper is based on material collected in the framework of two large-scale European projects MYPLACE and CATCH-EyoU. An in-depth micro-level analysis on meanings young people give to their activities is based on interviews conducted in MYPLACE ethnographic case studies in youth councils and Pirate Party. The interviews conducted with the Estonian youth policy makers (incl. members of the parliament, local level politicians, state and local level officials) as the part of the CATCH-EyoU study were used as the source of information for the in-debt analysis of the attitudes of policy makers.

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