Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN30_01b: Participation I: Political engagement
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Ilaria Pitti, University of Siena
Location: GM.303
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road

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Political Engagement Through Life Course And Youth Transitions

Nuno de Almeida Alves

ISCTE-IUL, Portugal

Life course and protracted transitions into adulthood have a significant explicative power in respect to young people’s relation to politics and civic engagement. Life cycles, better than age, may explain a progressive interest in politics and a growing engagement in political issues along the successive steps and transitional processes of individuals: from high school to university; from education to work; from initial sentimental relationships to stable partnerships and new household formations. The protracted transitions perspective helps the understanding the contemporary average delay of each of this transitional processes and respective implications in young people’s autonomy and completion of citizenship rights and duties.

However, these two perspectives will have a different contribution in the present abstract proposal. It will help to build the understanding of a specific group of young people, and more specifically of the individual trajectories or careers (Fillieule 2001) of their members into deeply involved activists, through a process started in secondary education, changed though their enrolment in tertiary education and finally transformed by their difficult and precarious integration in the labour market.

This proposal is based on a set of interviews and ethnographic research undertaken with Precarious Inflexible, part of the qualitative work done between 2012 and 2013 for the international project MYPLACE, financed by the 7th Framework Program of the European Commission.

Accounting Participation in Political Groups. Individual Meanings and Collective Perspectives in Young Activists’ Narratives

Carlo Genova

University of Turin, Italy

Focussing on the European context, research about youth political activism shows that few young people are completely un-interested and un-informed on politics, few of them completely abandoned every political coordinate of reference, as well as every interest in these topics, but at the same time very few of them belong to political organised groups or are anyway personally involved in some form of political action.

A lot of research is trying to explain this misalignment, also because in scientific literature often political forms of action are essentially intended as means for the actualisation of a set of values through their translation into specific aims and strategies on the basis of correspondent wider representations of society.

Few research however focusses explicitly on the analysis of the complex meanings connected with these forms of action by the young activists, few attention is paid to the analysis of the processes through which their representations, values, aims and actions are really reciprocally connected, as wells as are connected to the meanings they attribute to their engagement.

Aim of this article is then to propose some starting points in filling this gap, analysing in particular the narrations, the accounts, given about these topics by young activists involved in political groups. The paper is based on thirty qualitative interviews conducted in Italy with young activists (19-29 years old) involved in groups of political intervention, and on analysis of their representations and narratives about: today’s society and its main problems; the group of peers they are engaged with and its distinctive traits with reference to most of youth; the perspectives of intervention shared in this group; the activists’ personal motives of engagement.

Cohort, Age and Time Effects on Political Participation of Young People in Serbia 1995-2018

Dragan Stanojevic

Faculty of Philosophy Belgrade, Serbia

This presentation describe the changes in political participation of young people in Serbia from 1995 – 2018. The aim of the paper is to examine the effects of age, cohort and period on the level and type of political participation (conventional or civic). Despite recent debates and literature, the key question is still ongoing. Whether the changes in political behavior of young people are caused by a particular historical context, or are related to certain cohorts. We use a recently developed method of simultaneously estimating age, period, and cohort effects, to examine changes in the level of young people engagement in the conventional forms of politics - party membership, political campaigns, trade unions, and civic engagement – different NGOs, social movements etc. For that purpose we use four ways of cross-sectional survey conducted in Serbia in 1995, 2003, 2012 and 2018.

Results show that party membership has an Inverse U-Shaped Curve. Membership is lower among older and younger cohorts, among those who were born before 1934 and after 1975. During the 1990s there was a significant increase in party membership, which points to the period effect. Union membership decline among all age cohorts, and during the 1990s there was a significant drop in membership among young people, showing the importance of the period – post-socialist transformation, wars, international isolation, and political tensions within the country. During this period civic engagement is on the rise, with younger age cohorts as bearers.

Social Manipulation Of Contemporary Youth In Russia

Nadezda Osipova

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russian Federation

Social manipulation of youth is a process of destructive social influence on young people, carried out through various socio-economic and political means in order to control ways of thinking and behavior models of young people against their own interests.

Around the world, but especially in transitive societies including Russia, manipulation often undermines democratic institutions and brings false motivation of political participation. Destructive personalities and oligarchic structures, politicians and political parties, public associations, totalitarian religious sects, some international organizations all can be actors of social manipulation. They use a common mechanism that is launched with the help of general and specific resources, means, political and social technologies.

Throughout history younger generation in Russia embraced by protest sentiments, have always taken an active part in state coups and revolutionary upheavals, popular unrest, often being victims of manipulation rather than true democratic consciousness.

Studies conducted by the author in 2014-2018 among students showed that the social manipulation among youth result in desocialization, social degradation and political disorientation, dissatisfaction with authorities that lead to emergence of asocial behavior and radical youth groups. However, not all Russian youth fall under the influence of manipulation, but only its specific part.

In a post-communist transition marked by authoritarian tendencies and controlled democracy major political actors, including United Russia, Communist Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Fair Russia are mobilizing youth rather not through classic democratic mechanisms, but through manipulative and populist political technologies. These technologies are aimed at creating artificial political participation and false political motivation that doesn't have serious ideological or value background but is efficient in achieving short-term goals during electoral and public campaigns.

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