Special Issue "Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity"

A special issue of Societies (ISSN 2075-4698).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2018) | Viewed by 13983

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Matt Henn
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Chair of Social Research, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, 50 Shakespeare Street, Nottingham NG1 4FQ, UK
Interests: politics and youth; voting and elections; political parties
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent evidence and discourse suggests that young people are becoming progressively more disillusioned with democratic politics as practiced in many contemporary societies—rejecting the institutions of national governments, and consequently leaving many democracies in a state of relative and impending existential uncertainty. This is most visibly reflected in an emerging global pattern of generational electoral inequality that sees young people significantly less likely to vote and participate in formal electorally-based politics than their older contemporaries. However, there are two important caveats here. Firstly, there is considerable debate as to the extent to which such developments are permanent or reversible. Secondly, there is burgeoning evidence that young people’s apparent disconnection and withdrawal from formal institutionalised politics has its parallel in a global tendency towards their support for, and participation in, new styles of non-institutionalised political action that seem to better fit their life-styles and to permit the actualisation of their political aspirations.

This Special Issue “Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity”, intends to explore the contemporary realities and patterns of youth participation in different societies. For this purpose, Societies invites manuscripts of original research and conceptualization that address the different practices of youth as they seek to effect social and political change (and also their motivations for doing so). Contributions are welcome from scholars, youth practitioners and activists operating in a range of different settings, and using diverse disciplinary, and multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives.

Prof. Matt Henn
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Societies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Article
The Making of Democratic Actors: Counting the Costs of Public Cuts in England on Young People’s Steps towards Citizenship
Societies 2018, 8(4), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040111 - 09 Nov 2018
Viewed by 1355
Abstract
This paper provides a synthesis of qualitative studies, examining youth empowerment projects and initiatives that have encouraged young people to have a voice in local, regional, and national political debates. Specifically, the article examines the role of English youth services in building the [...] Read more.
This paper provides a synthesis of qualitative studies, examining youth empowerment projects and initiatives that have encouraged young people to have a voice in local, regional, and national political debates. Specifically, the article examines the role of English youth services in building the spirit of citizenship in young people against the challenging question of the changing behavioural pattern and profiles of young English electorates. To do this, the paper draws on four case studies to help rethink the critical moments for disadvantaged and vulnerable young people in their journeys towards citizenship, and how English youth services understand and respond to the experiences of young people. The article presents the strengths and limitations of the youth sector to enrich and furnish the spirit of citizenship in today’s youth, and argues for a more innovative role in the part played by the state in an era of austerity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
Article
What Matters? Non-Electoral Youth Political Participation in Austerity Britain
Societies 2018, 8(4), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040101 - 17 Oct 2018
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2793
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
Article
France’s #Nuit Debout Social Movement: Young People Rising up and Moral Emotions
Societies 2018, 8(4), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040100 - 16 Oct 2018
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2150
Abstract
Set against a backdrop of austerity and neoliberal policies affecting many young people adversely, the Nuit Debout protest movement in France began in March 2016 when people gathered in public spaces to oppose the Socialist government’s plan to introduce neoliberal labour legislation. Like [...] Read more.
Set against a backdrop of austerity and neoliberal policies affecting many young people adversely, the Nuit Debout protest movement in France began in March 2016 when people gathered in public spaces to oppose the Socialist government’s plan to introduce neoliberal labour legislation. Like other post-2008 movements, Nuit Debout was leaderless, non-hierarchical, and relied on social media for political communication and to mobilise participants. The Nuit Debout was also a movement inspired by powerful moral-political emotions such as righteous anger and hope. In this article, the authors address two questions. First, what features of Nuit Debout distinguished it from earlier social movements in France? Second, what role did moral emotions play in mobilising people to act as they did? Drawing on interviews with young protestors and their own testimonies, we argue that Nuit Debout was a distinctive form of protest for France. One distinguishing feature was the way young people—the “precarious generation”—were motivated by a strong sense of situated injustice, much of which related to what they saw as the unfairness of austerity policies, being deprived of a decent future and the feeling they had been betrayed by governments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
Article
Market Values and Youth Political Engagement in the UK: Towards an Agenda for Exploring the Psychological Impacts of Neo-Liberalism
Societies 2018, 8(4), 95; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8040095 - 27 Sep 2018
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 3113
Abstract
This article seeks to develop a preliminary analysis of how neo-liberal thought and policies have impacted on youth political engagement in the UK, specifically by attempting to understand how macro-economic and other public policies can influence the individual psychology of citizens and their [...] Read more.
This article seeks to develop a preliminary analysis of how neo-liberal thought and policies have impacted on youth political engagement in the UK, specifically by attempting to understand how macro-economic and other public policies can influence the individual psychology of citizens and their subsequent behaviour. The article sets out a clear definition and explanation of neo-liberalism and summarises six key neo-liberal impacts particularly pertinent to political engagement: marketisation and the tension this brings with democratic norms; responsibilisation narratives; increased inequality; the changing character of the state through privatisation and deregulation; the preference among policy-makers for ‘expert rule’; and repression of labour. It argues that the main psychological effects that result, and which underpin and define the personal experience of neo-liberal policy, are declines in political efficacy and increases in individualism, the ramifications of which for political engagement are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
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Article
Youth Activism in Political Squats between Centri Sociali and Case Occupate
Societies 2018, 8(3), 77; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030077 - 05 Sep 2018
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1910
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
Article
Young Europeans: A New Political Generation?
Societies 2018, 8(3), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/soc8030070 - 29 Aug 2018
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2332
Abstract
Young people in Europe are often described as apolitical non-participants in the civic culture of their own states and the European Union (EU). Using empirical data based on group discussions (n = 324) in 29 European states (104 locations; 2000 young people aged [...] Read more.
Young people in Europe are often described as apolitical non-participants in the civic culture of their own states and the European Union (EU). Using empirical data based on group discussions (n = 324) in 29 European states (104 locations; 2000 young people aged between 11 and 19), this paper challenges this, and suggests that many young people have distinct political views and are motivated to participate in both political discussions and traditional and non-traditional forms of participation. They are particularly interested in a range of current issues, largely around human rights, migration and (anti-)nationalism, and the article illustrates this with examples from a range of countries. Human rights issues raised concerned their perception of contemporary injustices, which were constructed as European values and formed a significant element in their self-identification as Europeans, and a general unwillingness to be identified with ‘the nation’. This broad pan-European analysis suggests that young people see themselves in many ways as a politically distinct cohort, a generation with different political values than those of their parents and grandparents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth and Social and Political Action in a Time of Austerity)
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