The PROMISE quantitative team at GESIS Cologne presented their analysis of the European Values Survey (EVS) on youth activism at the “Spring Political Science Research Roundtable” on May 25 2018 in Cologne, Germany. The Political Science Research Roundtable is a bi-annual meeting of data-driven political scientists held at GESIS.
The quantitative team has been working on the secondary data analysis of the EVS to complement the PROMISE ethnographic case studies. The presentation is part of their report titled: “Report on multi-level analyses of youth participation: Investigating links between youth participation and values, living conditions, and conflict.”
Research framework: everyday engagement and activism
The analysis of the European Values Survey involved a cross-national comparison of societal participation among young adults age 18-30. It discussed the different forms of societal participation and protest employed by youth classified broadly into three typologies of everyday engagement and youth activism:
- a) Low everyday engagement
- b) Only attitudinal everyday engagement
- c) High everyday engagement
- Low activism
- Only legal activism
- Legal and illegal activism
These typologies were examined in term of how they relate to efficacy of engagement, which involves 1) the young adults’ confidence in their ability to bring about change and 2) the openness of governments and political parties to listen to youth and respond to their concerns.
Results point to the importance of youth transition schemes
The analysis found that young people’s way of engaging in society is clearly linked to trust in society and in government, but also to personal situations, such as living with parents or other adults. Such dependency relations are likely to influence personal efficacy beliefs of young adults.
Among the countries with the strongest youth activism and engagement are France, Denmark, Iceland and Italy. Low activism, on the other hand, is found in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Romania, Russia and Slovakia, where more than 50% of the young people were unlikely to use such tools as signing a petition or demonstrating to make their voice heard (see map).
The results point to influences from the political structure of a country and highlight that different support regimes that are in place for helping young people with the transition from education to work and to starting an independent life might be related to the engagement and activism profiles.
The presentation on youth activism was well received and the audience showed great interest in the results. These promising results have encouraged the GESIS team to dig deeper and to add a comparison between the forms of engagement of young adults and the older generation to their analysis to look for systematic cohort differences in their way of acting.
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