Apaty or protest - Youth, generations and political participation
science of education university of bologna bologna, italy
A common representation of youth today tells us of a generation apathetic, disenchanted, distant from politics and, more generally, from the culture of engagement that have marked the biographic events of the older generations. In contrast with this negative image, other researches have put the attention on the changes which are occurring in the field of citizens involvement in politics. Young people have responded to the crisis of political parties and their traditional model of militancy shifting the interest towards new, more direct and unconventional political actions (protests, boycotts, mobilization through Internet) or towards other activities (volunteer work in social or cultural associations). This paper aims to reconstruct, with reference to the Italian context of the last decades, the main dimensions of civic and political engagement of young people, trends (last 3-4 decades) and determinants of political inclusion/exclusion at individual and contextual level. The paper intends to pursue two objectives. The first is to test different scenarios ("apathy" and "new activism") to find out which is more suitable to describe youth condition. The second is to compare forms and level of political involvement of the younger generation with that of the older generations in order to value whether the gap has widened over time and in what areas.