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BASS Social Anthropology and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
Youth, Politics & Activism in Contemporary Europe

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY20412
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

The unit aims to:

·         Introduce students to academic and policy debates concerning youth political and civic engagement.

·         Provide theoretical and empirical materials that will allow students to form and express informed opinions about key debates in the field, e.g. whether young people are increasingly ‘apathetic’ or actively engaged in a youthful ‘antipolitics’.

·         Introduce students to new research on the political and civic engagement of young people across Europe.

Compare and contrast a range of sites of political activism of young people in contemporary Europe.

Aims

The unit aims to:

·         Introduce students to academic and policy debates concerning youth political and civic engagement.

·         Provide theoretical and empirical materials that will allow students to form and express informed opinions about key debates in the field, e.g. whether young people are increasingly ‘apathetic’ or actively engaged in a youthful ‘anti-politics’.

·         Introduce students to new research on the political and civic engagement of young people across Europe.

Compare and contrast a range of sites of political activism of young people in contemporary Europe.

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to

 

Knowledge and Understanding: 

·         Understand the arguments, and the empirical data underpinning them, concerning youth and its political and civic engagement.

·         Be able to form and express an opinion on those debates and apply this theoretical knowledge to a range of examples of contemporary youth activism.

·         Understand patterns participation in countries and regions across Europe in their historical and cultural context.

 

Intellectual skills:

·         Evaluate competing analytical perspectives.

·         Assess the strengths and weaknesses of empirical evidence.

·         Employ material available from academic, media and policy sources to make effective arguments.

 

Practical skills: 

·         Use library and electronic sources and resources.

·         Undertake and present independent research tasks.

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities:  

·         Present ideas and asking questions in group discussion.

·         Work with others to develop ideas and make presentations.

·         Develop a critical approach to academic, media and policy texts.

Syllabus

This course unit considers the changing relationship between youth and the political sphere.

 

It starts by introducing students to academic and policy debates concerning young people and their political and civic participation or non-participation. At the heart of these are competing claims that young people are: increasingly ‘apathetic’ or ‘disengaged’; disengaged only from formal political activities, choosing instead to engage in ‘informal’ modes of politics; or ‘engaged sceptics’ involved in a youthful ‘anti-politics’. The course will also consider why and how young people become politically active or inactive including the role of political heritage and socialisation in shaping youth engagement. Finally, the debate on the role of online activism and E-democracy in potentially stimulating youth participation will be discussed.

 

The course goes on to explore examples of youth activism in contemporary Europe and what the meanings attached to activism by young people tell us about the theoretical debates considered in the first half of the course. Examples of activism might include: anti-capitalist/anti-austerity movements; radical right and populist movements and parties; gender and sexual politics; forms of civic activism such as volunteering, charity work etc.

 

The course will emphasise the importance of critically interrogating the empirical basis on which the theoretical arguments introduced rest and provide the opportunity to explore the evidence supporting these arguments through the interrogation of primary and secondary survey and qualitative research data.

 

Although academic texts drawing on the experience of youth globally will be used, the focus of the course will be on contemporary Europe. Students will be encouraged to think about patterns of participation in different countries and regions of Europe in their historical and cultural context.

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered using a flexible format of 3 hour lectures/workshop.

 

Use will be made of documentary videos made for a research project that the module convenor has been involved in on youth attitudes to politics and on youth activism in particular movements in the UK, Portugal and Russia.

 

There will be an opportunity to use a new primary survey database (SPSS) and a qualitative database (Nvivo) capturing young people’s political and civic engagement for students to explore questions and hypotheses relevant to the course. This is to enhance understanding of the secondary literature studied and students will not be assessed on their use of either of these software packages.

 

The course will utilise Blackboard to deliver the module’s course content, core readings, lecture slides, any supplementary materials, and communication.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Feedback methods

Informal feedback will be given during lecture. In addition formal feedback will be given on the non-assessed essay plan or blog and the assessed essay.

Recommended reading

Beck, U. and Beck-Gernsheim, E. (2002) Individualization: lnstitutionalized lndividualism and its Social and Political Consequences, London: Sage.

Castells, M. (2012) Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age, Cambridge: Polity Press.

CivicWeb (2009) CivicWeb: Young People, the Internet and Civic Participation — Final Policy Brief. http://www.civicweb.eu/images/stories/reports/finalper cent20_policyper cent20briefper cent20final_.pdfFuredi, F. (2005) Politics of Fear: Beyond Left or Right, London and New York: Continuum.

Faas, D. (2007) ‘Youth, Europe and the Nation: The Political Knowledge, Interests and Identities of the New Generation of European Youth’, Journal of Youth Studies, 10(2): 161-181.

Hay, C. (2007) Why We Hate Politics, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Henn, M. and Foard, N., (2014), ‘Social differentiation in young people’s political participation: The impact of social and educational factors on youth political engagement in Britain’, Journal of Youth Studies, 17 (3): 360-80.

Harris, A. (2008) ‘Young Women, Late Modern Politics, and the Participatory Possibilities of Online Cultures’, Journal of Youth Studies, 11(5): 481-95.

Henn, M., Weinstein, M. and Forrest, S., (2005), ‘Uninterested Youth? Young People´s Attitudes towards Party Politics in Britain’, Political Studies, 53 (3): 556-578.

Kimberlee, R. H. (2002) ‘Why don't British young people vote at general elections?’, Journal of Youth Studies, 5 (1): 86-98.

London School of Economics (2013) Youth Participation in Democratic Life — Final Report, February 2013. http://www.lse.ac.uk/businessAndConsultancy/LSEEnterprise/pdf/YouthParticipationDemocraticLife.pdf - accessed 15/04/14

Norris, P., (2011), Democratic Deficit: Critical Citizens Revisited, Cambridge: CUP.

Marsh, D., O´Toole, T. and Jones, S. (2007) Young People and Politics in the UK: Apathy or Alienation?, Palgrave MacMillan: New York.

Pilkington, H. and Pollock, G. (eds) Radical futures? Youth, politics and activism in contemporary Europe, Sociological Review Monograph Series, Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.

Pilkington, H. (2016) Loud and Proud: Passion and Politics in the English Defence League, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Stolle, D., Hooghe, M. and Micheletti,M. (2005) ‘Politics in the Supermarket: Political Consumerism as a Form of Political Partipation’, International Political Science Review 26 (3): 245-269.

Wodak, R., KhosraviNik, M. and  Mral, B. (eds) Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse, London: Bloomsbury.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Hilary Pilkington Unit coordinator

Additional notes

2015/16 timetable

Tuesday 13:00 - 16:00

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