9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN30 Youth and Generation

Political Participation and Youth (Counter)Cultures

The conference paper is the outcome of the European project "Up2Youth: Youth - Actor of Social Change" funded by the European commission 2006-2009. We focused on the (political) participation of young people, thereby considering young people as actors and regarding participation as not restricted to its traditional political forms. The main research questions were how youth culture influences youth participation and if and in which ways youth culture has developed and established new forms of political participation. Using a qualitative approach, ten case studies were carried out in five countries, providing a broad range of implicit and explicit political youth scenes (squatters, alternative media activists, Ultras, Republican paramilitaries, eco-activists, skaters, etc.). Additionally, we have analyzed if the French urban riots in 2005 should be considered as youth delinquency or regarded as expression of young people's involvement in public affairs. Discussing our results with current theoretical ideas, we came to the conclusion that a broad definition of participation needs to include all activities of young people as potentially participatory which are carried out in the public and of which they are aware of being public.