Youth political participation and inequalities: comparing European countries and different repertoires of engagement


In recent years, research on Western European countries has shown that younger generations are less involved in political activities than a few decades ago. Several scholars have disputed claims of apathy or retirement into the private sphere of the younger generations, underlining that they prefer to engage in unconventional forms of activism and protest, or associations and voluntary work. Our work investigates the most recent youth political participation dynamics by analysing data from the 9th edition (2018) of the European Social Survey. The first aim is to explore the differences in youth political engagement levels among EU countries. On the other hand, the transformations involving the very nature of political participation also affect the relationship between socio-economic inequalities and political engagement. Notwithstanding the declining importance of the class dimension in structuring processes of collective identification, it may be argued that social class in itself keeps playing a crucial role in determining different degrees of access to political participation. The second objective, therefore, is to assess the impact of socio-economic inequalities on political engagement based on a quantitative and comparative approach, comparing younger cohorts with older ones, and electoral participation with unconventional engagement.

Keywords: youth political participation, European youth, social and economic inequalities, conventional/unconventional participation, social centrality, class

Author Biographies

Elisa Lello, University of Urbino Carlo Bo

LaPolis, Laboratorio di Sudi Politici e Sociali

Nico Bazzoli, University of Urbino Carlo Bo

Dipartimento di Scienze della Comunicazione, Studi Umanistici e Internazionali (DISCUI)