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Youth democracy and social change

By Kathy Edwards

Abstract

In this paper I examine youth as participants in social change. A particular focus\ud is youth participation through voting. Currently there is much concern worldwide\ud that young people are disengaging from democratic participation through voting,\ud and, either disengaging from political participation entirely, or, engaging in\ud different ways through protest, internet politics and consumer activism. This\ud paper asks the question 'how effective do young people consider the ballot box\ud as a mechanism of social change?' As well as challenging the assumption that\ud young people are disengaged from democratic ideals I examine some of the\ud perceived limitations of democratic participation as young people perceive\ud them. The argument of this paper is that young people are not disengaging from\ud the ballot box as an 'ideal' of democracy, but rather that they are drawing\ud attention to some aspects of the democratic process that they perceive as\ud limitations on democracy. In other words in the debate on young people and\ud participation emphasis needs to be put on democratic practices as requiring\ud reform as well as on young people and 'lack' of participation.\ud In discussing young people and democratic participation through the ballot box\ud this paper draws on data from the Youth Electoral Study. The main objective of\ud YES is to discover why it is that many young people in Australia are reluctant to\ud enrol and vote despite both enrolling and voting being compulsory in Australia

Topics: 160805 Social Change, youth, participation, voting, democracy, social change
Publisher: Centre for Social Change Research, School of Humanities and Human Services, QUT
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:6092

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