Young People’s Political Participation in Western Europe: Continuity or Generational Change?
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Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. Equivalent Measures of Political Participation 3. Political Participation and Age 4. Young People's Political Participation in Europe 5. Generational Change? Political Generations and Cohorts in Europe 6. Too Young to Participate?
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Conclusions Customer Reviews Average Review. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. This is not an over-statement. While the origins are rooted back in the classic studies of Eriksson on identity, as indicated, there is recognition of the role of the youth cultures approach, in particular, the CCCS, or Birmingham School p.
However, the Nordic model is also a critical engagement with the Neo-Marxist roots of this school. Gudmundsson states:. In the Nordic countries a new generation of scholars was eager to break away from objectivist Marxism without going back to habitual science. At this time inter-disciplinarity was already well established in the Nordic countries, sometimes organized in new university centers or university colleges and according to fields or themes rather than disciplines, sometimes as a revolt within traditional disciplines … Through interdisciplinary networking, youth researchers from a large number of disciplines in dozens of Nordic universities were able to avoid isolation at their own institutes and at the same time bring knowledge from many fields into this new arena.
Gudmundsson then points to three central topics or orientations, namely studies on cultural practice, through methodological tools from fields like literature, musicology and anthropology; women and youth studies; studies of youth in local communities; and lastly the place of youth in the welfare state. However, more important is the key characteristics of this model, namely the strong tradition of networking across disciplines, institutions and national borders, for participation and consultation of organisations, voluntary as well as governmental.
It would be important to do more research on how youth ministry research from the Nordic countries reflects, transcends or challenges this model. However, what was important for my contribution here is merely to broadly outline the key developments and contestations, as a basis for a focus on Africa, in order to develop a theoretical framework for these everyday life theological reflections, especially for how theologians would reflect on these youth studies research, related to the everyday experiences of young people.
African youth studies.
How can we situate their lives in the present, grasp the meanings revealed in their shaping of a future, and ground both in an understanding of the past? This is done in dialogue with the influences, developments and debates as discussed in previous sections. This is understandable, given the social and political challenges facing children and young people, also in this context.
There is however a danger of 'ideologies of youth' or an emphasis on the spectacular, because of academic funding models as well as the political-economic agendas of the interests concerned. Various scholars point to not only the ambiguous, ambivalent and perhaps paradoxical conceptualisation of young people in Africa, but also various methodological problems Philipps ; Van Dijk et al Philipps explains, 'the underlying methodological problem of African youth research: as it deals with an oversized analytical category, namely, "youth", it has largely failed to disaggregate youth's diversity' He proposes comparison.
For him, 'a comparative perspective is useful to investigate how different contexts, be they economic, political or professional, impact young people'. The question is, how do we explain variation?
Young People's Political Participation in Western Europe : Continuity or Generational Change?
As a background towards answering this question, he refers to the upsurge in research on African youth in the s. The aforementioned paradoxical conceptualisation was prominent not only in the context of decolonisation, but also the influence of global youth popular cultures and youth-related movements. He explains:. Cincotta ; Fuller ; Mesquida and Weiner ; Urdal , ; Urdal and Hoelscher , who can at least claim to work with statistical data from multiple countries. Their hypotheses, however, tend to be de-contextualised to such a degree that there is an evident need for a more context-sensitive, yet methodologically sound and systematic theory formation.
Comparative studies of African youth consist of a wide spectrum of case-based comparative analyses, varying in terms of what is compared and how it is compared Philipps Three approaches can be identified, namely the individualising, encompassing and variation-finding approaches. I share briefly the meaning of these approaches.
The individualising approach works with a detailed case study that seeks to explain the distinctive outcomes in one or more cases through implicit or explicit usually qualitative comparison with other cases that might confirm hypotheses concerning causal processes and outcomes generated in the specific case study. Its potential lies in its sensitivity to the particular historical constitution of a given social phenomenon.
Whether it is actually comparative, however, depends on its relation to other cases or theoretical debates. The encompassing approach sees different cases as parts 'of overarching, systemic processes, such as capitalism or globalization'. Philips notes that Honwana's Time of Youth falls under this category. While acknowledging that each of the studied settings Mozambique, Senegal, Tunisia, and South Africa 'has specific characteristics that shape [ youth's ] predicaments and responses', Honwana's main point concerns the global predicament of youth; in each case, young people are stuck in a period of 'waithood', largely 'resulting from failed neoliberal economic politics, bad governance and political crises'.
Lastly, the variation-finding approach seeks to explain variations of certain variables, usually across few cases and on the basis of qualitative analyses. This is in so far as one can present a brief overview of current developments and contestations within the field of international youth studies.
The question is how we are to reflect on it theologically, in order to present a way forward for reflections on everyday religious reflections, and connections. Theological reflections. Meredith McGuire, who works with an understanding that religious expression is part of culture, shows that this expression is fluid and connected to everyday life experiences.
While on face level, this might seems to be only relevant for the cultures approach as discussed earlier, it also relates in my view to the notions of a generational approach to research on youth. However, relating the everyday experiences to religious experiences, the notion of cultural and religious syncretism becomes relevant.
She asserts that there is an agreement with Rosalind Shaw and Charles Steward that the notion of syncretism is basically 'the process by which cultures constitute themselves at any given time' Loc. They argue that all cultural groups are fundamentally syncretistic, but not all have the same attitudes or social movements against the syncretism of others. Social scientists should therefore ask the key question, who opposes syncretistic religious beliefs and practices and why, meaning what are the political interests and social locations?
Why would the labelling of cultural or religious hybridity as 'inauthentic' be an issue only for certain types of societies in certain historical periods, given the fact that it is basic to all processes of cultural formation Loc. She surmises that the reason for this resistance and stereotypical depiction is because it syncretism challenges privileged status of a particular meaning their own religious practice. McGuire Loc states:. Many scholars of religion fail to acknowledge that the boundaries separating recognised religions from those religions considered suspect - as syncretic - are themselves political, serving to privilege certain religions - including the scholars' own religion or those of their society's dominant classes and ethnic groups.
For the moment and for the purpose of this contribution, I would argue that what one needs to affirm is that indeed today:. How then, can we understand various social processes that result in hybridity?
Young People's Political Participation in Western Europe : Gema Garcia Albacete :
And how can we frame the resulted blended religious expressions so that we do not forget that they too, are continuing to change, adapt, and intermix … Loc. These perspectives of McGuire is a key framework as she challenges dominant approaches of working within separating silos in cultural and religious formation. It sheds light on how younger people make sense of their everyday experiences, and how they make connections, by changing, adapting and intermixing.
Theologically, therefore, Roebben makes a valuable distinction, primarily from the Western-European context, between theology for, by and with children ' theologie van, voor en met kinderen ' , and chooses for a theology with children which makes explicit the implicit theological presuppositions of children and brings it in dialogue with more systematic insights for children pp.
This is also relevant for a theology with younger people. While for most of professional theologians or religious professionals, theological reflection still happens mostly within a university, seminary, church or school settings. Yet, as we have seen, these reflections could also happen in the context of wrestling with government policies, economic realities, cultural influences and environmental realities in urban or rural contexts.
It could happen on the street, or on social media. It might not always have a conscious religious language. Roebben therefore proposes correctly in my view that we should rather think of these reflections, under the broad umbrella of ' lewensbeskouwing ' ['life orientation'], and therefore ' lewensbeschoulijke vorming ' ['life orientation formation'?
His aim, in arguing for this shift, is to find a place in the education and training of religious education teachers or then, youth workers as teachers, within the context of faith - as well as non-faith. Because we all, so he argues, whether in an explicit faith context, or not, struggle with the same questions.
He states:. Zowel christenen als moslims, humanisten als ietsisten, atheisten als agnosten worstelen vandaag immers met dezelfde hermenutische processen.
We kunnen van elkaar leren. He therefore argues for a kenotic theological perspective on levensbeschoulijke vorming. This means for him that if the didactic play of theologising with children and young people, and I would add, through the aforementioned intermixing with youth studies research, is played 'seriously', then theology in church and academy will not be able to continue to direct orders from a storm-free zone, but they themselves will be changed in appearance.
Thus theology will, in a new and creative manner, work interdisciplinary and be open to the impulses from elsewhere - the world of the arts, literature, sports, science, etc. Not learned faith, but lived faith ' niet het geleerde geloof staat voorop fides quae , maar het geleefde geloof fides qua , dat zich in alle kwetsbaarheid moet waarmaken in het level van elke dag p. This shift challenges theologians and religious practitioners to cross the borders across disciplines as we aim at understanding the everyday worlds of all the young people.
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I agree with the challenge by Woodman and Wyn that youth studies research should not only be focused on a narrow transition from essentialised notions of childhood to adulthood, or reduced to political-economic categories. That is the danger, especially where revised and improved government policy is the only desired output.
Youth research should prioritise the everyday life experiences, the biographies of young people, as they negotiate, make connections, change, adapt and intermix, as they attempt to find meaning in the context of social change and structures. Theologically, this is the process of discerning their vocation, their mission in life. What are the implications of this serious play? In conclusion, I would point to at least three possibilities for youth ministry research in general.
Firstly, youth ministry research again will start with the affirmation that children and young people's stories biographies are a process of fluid sense-making.