ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Youth electoral participation in the modern era: ‘crisis’ for democracy or the development of new frontiers of political involvement?

Stephen Quinlan
GESIS, Leibniz
Stephen Quinlan
GESIS, Leibniz
Open Panel

Abstract

Young people appear to be especially disengaged from the electoral process with turnout in elections among the under 30s not only lower in comparison to older voters but on a downward trajectory over time. These patterns of participation have sparked debate: some argue that these patterns signify a ‘crisis’ for democracy with young people tuning out and being turned off of politics. Others such as Dalton (2009) argue that these concerns are misplaced and that far from disengaging, the young of today are redefining the modes and channels of political involvement by developing new frontiers of participation. This paper will contribute to this debate by examining whether young people of today are voting less because they are turning to alternative modes of participation. Using data from the European Social Survey and the Political Action Study of the 1970s, which will be supplemented by focus groups of registered Irish voters, the paper will answer two questions: the first is to ascertain whether there has been a shift in the participatory modes of the under 30 cohort over time and cross-nationally and whether this can account for the higher levels of abstention among young people in elections. The second is to investigate the alternative modes and channels of political participation, specifically the much heralded forms of e-participation such as Facebook to assess what role they are playing in facilitating and mobilizing young people to participate in elections.