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What Matters? Non-Electoral Youth Political Participation in Austerity Britain

Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham TW20 0EX, Surrey, UK
Societies 2018, 8(4), 101;
Received: 15 July 2018 / Revised: 29 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 October 2018 / Published: 17 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
PDF [212 KB, uploaded 17 October 2018]


Since the 2008 global financial crisis, Britain’s young people have been disproportionately affected by policies of welfare retrenchment. Youth disillusionment with austerity has been cited as a reason for the youthquake witnessed in the 2017 General Election, where the Labour Party’s better-than-expected performance resulted in the loss of the ruling Conservative Party government’s parliamentary majority. The degree of one-party dominance among younger voters was unprecedented, with Labour’s aggressively pro-youth agenda paying dividends. However, this paper takes the attention away from voting behaviour and towards non-electoral forms of youth political participation in the UK. What are the strongest predictors of non-electoral political participation among young British people? Three possible predictors are explored: educational attainment, level of trust in politicians, and party identification. Three forms of non-electoral participation are considered: signing a petition, taking part in a boycott and sharing political messages on social media. Using a bespoke representative survey commissioned by Hope Not Hate, this paper finds that educational attainment does not have a particularly strong effect on non-electoral participation, with Labour Party identification being significantly associated with all three forms. A strong relationship is also discovered between identifying with a ‘minor party’ and non-electoral political participation among Britain’s young people. View Full-Text
Keywords: young people’s politics; austerity; petition; boycott; social media young people’s politics; austerity; petition; boycott; social media
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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Ehsan, M.R. What Matters? Non-Electoral Youth Political Participation in Austerity Britain. Societies 2018, 8, 101.

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