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Societies 2018, 8(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8010017

Towards a Conceptualization of Young People’s Political Engagement: A Qualitative Focus Group Study

1
Department of Politics and International Relations, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK
2
Department of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 November 2017 / Revised: 3 March 2018 / Accepted: 5 March 2018 / Published: 8 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Studies: Values, Practices and Discourses on Generations)
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Abstract

Disenchantment with politics and low electoral turnout does not mean young people are not engaged with politics. However, our understanding of what being ‘politically engaged’ entails is somewhat challenged by the lack of consensus concerning the definition of this particular concept. Furthermore, existing conceptualizations of political engagement and participation (offline and online) often center on a limited set of political action items, failing to realize that a person can be politically engaged but not participate in political actions. Despite attempts to understand how young people themselves define politics, there are insufficient youth specific explanations of what being politically engaged means. In the present study, focus groups including young people (18–24 years) were conducted to examine understandings of political engagement. Participants were also asked to group a set of items they considered most accurately assessed this construct. Using the results, a conceptualization is proposed taking into account young people’s definitions of political engagement; this suggests that young people consider political engagement to have emotional and cognitive dimensions but also to be conceptually distinct from political participation. View Full-Text
Keywords: political engagement; political participation; young people; focus groups political engagement; political participation; young people; focus groups
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Pontes, A.; Henn, M.; Griffiths, M.D. Towards a Conceptualization of Young People’s Political Engagement: A Qualitative Focus Group Study. Societies 2018, 8, 17.

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