About this Research Topic
Participation is at the heart of democracy and of the practice of citizenship. Concerns with participation often come in the guise of the recognition of a crisis. Because participation is generally seen as necessary for healthy democratic regimes and for adequate democratic citizenship, problems of participation, like those framed as disengagement and disaffection, are widely present in the literature, especially in what regards the civic and political participation of young people.
The disengagement narrative, although finding some empirical support, especially in what regards more conventional forms of participation or volunteering, misses developments that are crucial to understand political participation today - the political participation of young people is transforming and diversifying, it has new repertoires and foci (e.g. political consumerism, internet activism, horizontality movements), and it is more connected and contentious. Current examples of strong participatory efforts led by young people like the March for Our Lives in the US, the Fridays For Future, first in Europe and then globally, or the school occupations in Brazil, show us that even if young people are engaging less in some forms of participation, their intervention is in other ways very present.
If we take crisis to mean, as its etymology suggests, a point at which change must come, a common response to the crisis of participation has been a resurgence and widespread promotion of citizenship education through policy and practice. Citizenship education initiatives vary a lot in their approaches, aims and strategies, but they often expect to increase the opportunities students have to get formal political knowledge and information and to facilitate their involvement in experiential and hands-on political learning activities, sometimes through participation.
Considering this, in this edited topic our focus will be two-fold:
(i) In our globalized, digitalized and polarized societies, how are young people participating politically, how are their forms of participation changing, and how are they becoming political subjects, and politically educated, through these actions?
(ii) What kind of opportunities for political engagement and learning are educational contexts and initiatives (e.g. schools, community organizations) promoting and how do they contribute to the education of active and critical young citizens committed to social justice.
Keywords: Participation, Young people, Education, Political, civic transformation
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