New form of civic engagement amongst youths

Younger generations are moving away from classic forms of civic engagement towards more project-targeted episodic participation, concludes Timo Lochocki in a new report published by the Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector.

Lochocki has looked at trends, patterns and explanations for civic engagement amongst young people in Western democracies.

New ways of expressing interest
- The most intriguing finding is the significant increase in young people’s episodic engagement. In contrast to classic forms of engagement, this differs in terms of the amount of time spent and reasons for participating. It is more short-term and therefore devoted to a specific goal, he says.

Although youth involvement in civic affairs seems to be decreasing in terms of regular forms, their general political interest remains stable. It is rather that their interest is expressed in new ways, like boycotting, signing e-petitions and protesting.

The results of a cross-national analysis indicates that Norwegian youth are especially eager to enter into new forms of civic engagement.

Predicting behaviour
Lochocki found that episodic engagement increasing in all age groups, but particularly amongst youths. The study of youth engagement may thus provide a significant insight for understanding contemporary democracies.

- Researchers could predict youth behaviour and develop ways of extending their engagement, Lochocki claims.

An important role
Lochocki believes civic engagement amongst younger generations is important for two reasons.

- Firstly, it plays a significant role in sustaining strong civil societies and in turn vibrant democracies. Secondly, it is assumed through understanding young people’s engagement patters one may be able to forecast the future shape of the political economy, he says.

The reportTrends, Causes and Patterns of Young People’s Civic Engagement in Western Democraciesis published by the Centre for Research on Civil Society and Voluntary Sector, with funding provided by the Ministry of Culture in Norway.

It is a state of the art report which gives an overview of the existing research on young people’s civic involvement.

Read and download the report

Av Trude Løw Hansen (
Publisert 23. nov. 2010 14:13