Learning about politics and life as a citizen is part of the transition to adulthood. During this stage young people in most Western democracies are introduced to political processes and issues, as well as a range of political activities including voting and participation in social movements. But young people make this transition differently. The articles in this Book explore a range of ways that young people participate politically and also discuss those who are not ‘active citizens’.
The collection arose from a meeting of Australian experts in Youth Studies who came together to discuss and debate issues related to youth political participation. Collectively it provides a compendium of our current state of knowledge about this topic. While specific attention is directed to young people’s introduction to enrolment and voting, discussions include broader questions such as “what does it mean to be political?”, and “what role do various social institutions play in the political learning process?”
Articles include discussions of the legal requirements in Australia regarding enrolment and voting, whether there is such a thing as a “youth vote”, and the social psychological dimensions of youth confidence in voting. Topics related to the role of the family, the school, the media and the internet are included. Other important issues, such as gender differences, youth disenchantment, and disadvantaged youth receive much needed attention.
This collection provides a valuable resource for researchers, teachers and others who want to be stimulated by recent knowledge about youth political participation, not only in Australia but in all Western democracies where active citizenship is a valued objective.