Youth Political Participation: The Diverse Roads to Democracy
The Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship
McGill University, Montreal
June 16th – 17th, 2016
This academic conference will take place on the downtown campus of McGill University in June 2016, and is organized by Valérie-Anne Mahéo and colleagues from the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship. The conference will bring together experts on political participation, socialization and civic education from around the world, to discuss the state of the field, recent research findings, and to explore future avenues of research. The conference will showcase research from different national contexts and offer a comparative perspective on the contemporary challenges of youth political engagement in western democracies.
In addition to academic panels, roundtables will be organized with scholars, practitioners and public institutions working on issues related to youth and political participation. These intersectoral roundtables will offer a platform to discuss current practices and innovations in strategies of mobilization, communication and education.
All activities will be open to the public.
Professor Jan W. van Deth (Mannheim University, MZES) will deliver the keynote address.
Our era is characterized by democratic deficits and rising inequalities, which particularly affect the young generation. In this context, the conference seeks to further our understanding of how and why youth connect (or do not connect) with the democratic process, and to offer a reflection on policy avenues and guidelines for the future.
The conference will be structured around three themes, each addressing core lines of investigation in the explanation of young people’s political (dis)engagement.
Theme 1 – The Multiple Forms of Participation
In the 21st century, young people from developed democracies around the globe tend to be moving away from traditional and electoral forms of participation. Meanwhile, rapid developments in information and communication technologies are offering them new platforms for discussing politics and engaging with political issues. However, there remains a gap in knowledge about how, why and to what extent youth steer clear of electoral democracy and embrace new and digital forms of politics. The panels of this section will seek to explain a wide range of participation forms (protest, online, institutional, non-electoral and more) and will further address the interplay between online, electoral and non-institutional modes of participation.
Theme 2 – Youth Diversity and Inequalities
Despite popular (mis)conceptions that today young people are all “politically apathetic” or “digital natives”, inequalities persist among youth with regards to their capacity and interest to be involved in politics and to use certain forms of participation. Do all youth turn their back on electoral politics, or are some groups of youth particularly likely to stay away from the ballot box? And why are some youth more disengaged than others? The panels of this section will analyze variations in forms of participation among young people who have different backgrounds and life experiences, while paying specific attention to those facing socio-economic hardships, first and second generation immigrants, and aboriginal youth.
Theme 3 – Connecting to Democracy: Institutions and Policies
The panels will address how different socialization agents, institutional actors and public policy programs affect youth’s interest and engagement in politics. Young people typically face various social and economic challenges in their transition to adulthood, which interfere with their involvement in politics. However, these diverse life experiences also offer the possibility for more meaningful ways to connect with politics. How do community groups, social and employment programs, and education institutions foster interest in the political process? How might they address barriers to participation? How can they create connections between politics and the different areas of life in which youth are invested? Furthermore, do public institutions and political parties address young people’s issues and acknowledge their various means of political expression?
Call for Proposals
NEW SUBMISSION DEADLINE – Please send your proposals for January 12, 2016
To Valérie-Anne Mahéo: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Papers presented at this conference may focus on youth exclusively or present comparative analyses, cover a variety of methodological approaches (qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods), and present original research from various disciplines (political science, sociology, communication, public policy, education, psychology and more).
Proposals can be submitted in French or English, and should include: a 250 word abstract (maximum), 3 to 4 keywords, your name, contact information, and university and department affiliation. Proposals from graduate students are welcome and encouraged.
For further information on this event, please contact Valérie-Anne Mahéo: email@example.com.
Jan W. van Deth (1950) is Professor of Political Science and International Comparative Social Research at the University of Mannheim (Germany). His main research areas are political culture (especially social capital, political engagement, and citizenship), social change, and comparative research methods. He was Director of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), convenor of the international network Citizenship, Involvement, Democracy (CID) of the European Science Foundation, Book Series Editor of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR), and national coordinator of the German team for the European Social Survey (ESS). He is a Corresponding Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Recent publications include “Supporting Democracy: Political Participation and Political Attitudes. Exploring Causality Using Panel Data”, Political Studies (2014; with Ellen Quintelier), and “A Conceptual Map of Political Participation”, Acta Politica (2014).
The conference is supported and funded by the following institutions and research centres: Elections Canada, Elections BC, McGill Dean of Arts’ Development Fund, Making Electoral Democracy Work, the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (IPLAI), the Department of Political Science of McGill University, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), la Chaire de recherche sur la démocratie et les institutions parlementaire, and Observatoire Jeunesse et Société.