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Discovering the political in Non - political Young immigrant identities

Trond Solhaug
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim
Niels Nørgaard Kristensen
Aalborg Universitet
Trond Solhaug
Norwegian University of Science & Technology, Trondheim
Open Panel

Abstract

The theme of this paper is the political participation as young citizens among migrant youth in Denmark. In this essay we offer ‘political identity’ as concept to better understand how young people relate to politics. We see political identity as how citizens understand and represent oneself in relation to the field of politics. We particularly focus on students’ (citizens) political interest, participation, rationality, and their passion for politics. Our research question is: ‘What characterizes political identities among immigrant youths in the school? ’Political identity is analysed by examining students’ political interests as well as their rationality and passion for politics. We interviewed eight Muslim students from a Danish upper secondary school and from different national origins. Students’ political orientations seem quite contradictory, even among those who might readily be identified as a-political. Despite moderate political interest, all students show some inclinations to participate in elections or in particular issues. However, the linear model of political interest offered on a Likert scale seems insufficient when trying to describe young people’s political participation. Despite students’ ambiguity in their political engagement, their reasoning is often based on norms and values. Also young people have passion for issues which seem to be important when they decide to participate. Consequently, we need to emphasize the significance of a dynamic perspective on the phenomenon of political identity to better understand adolescent’s political participation.