Nowadays a lot of research describes most young people as barely interested in politics, expressing little trust in political institutions and far from any forms of institutional political participation. Moreover, most of the engaged youth are involved in forms of participation described as more civic and social than political, weakly ideological, more and more often digital and developed in virtual space, and usually experienced as one among several components of everyday personal lives. The article explores youth activism in political squats because it is a form of participation which, in countertendency, is political and radical in its aims and strategies, explicitly ideologically inspired, strongly rooted in physical places, and often quite central in everyday personal lives. The text is based on research conducted in the city of Turin (Italy) by means of qualitative interviews, participant observation and document analysis. Four main interconnected thematic dimensions are considered: Individuals’ biographical paths and meanings of activism; distinctive lifestyles and cultural sensitivities among the activists; collective narratives about contemporary society and possibilities of social change; patterns of intervention and forms of organization. On the basis of these analyses, the article maintains that this form of activism can be usefully interpreted as a real lifestyle, which has an explicit and intense political sense, but which young activists also connect with a much wider, more differentiated set of meanings.
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