An ideal activist in a privileged society: Studying the internal negotiations and practices of being a young Danish activist

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Conceptualisations of political participation are undergoing drastic changes, partly spurred by young people’s changing patterns of participation; this calls for new understandings (Loncle et al., 2012; Marsh et al., 2007). Most studies either measure young people’s political participation based on formal criteria, such as participation in elections, political parties and youth counsels (Walther et al., 2019), or they associate youth political participation with a “youth rebellion” (Lieberkind, 2021), hence searching for new “rebellious” forms of political action (Pitti, 2018). Both approaches have led to contemporary youth participation being found to be lacking, which has consequently produced a deficit discourse, defining young people as apathetic (Marsh et al., 2007; Marsh and Akram, 2015), alienated (Stoker, 2017), and decoupled from political systems (Bang, 2011). To counter this deficit discourse, recent research has
demonstrated that young people are not disengaged (e.g., Loncle et al., 2012), but still participate in politics in both formal and more rebellious ways (Milkman, 2017), as well as in ways that are not visible through conventional lenses (Bessant et al., 2017; Pickard and Bessant, 2018b). As a part of this endeavour, researchers have argued that everyday micro actions and political agency should be seen as much more interwoven, introducing conceptualisations such as “everyday makers” (Bang and Eva, 1999) and “lived citizenship” (Lister, 2007a; Smith et al., 2005; Walsh et al., 2018; Wood, 2014). This turn towards highlighting everyday practices and negotiation as political allows us to see all the micro-social practices and negotiations as constitutive of young people’s participation and of political change in both the young people themselves and society at large (Batsleer et al., 2017; Percy-Smith, 2015; Wood, 2014). These perspectives on the political within the micro-social realm have primarily been applied to nuance how performing citizenship (Kallio et al., 2020) is done through informal everyday activities. A few studies of youth activism have applied a micro perspective to nuance studies of what motivates activists (Ojala, 2012). For example, Nielsen’s (2019) study of university student activists stresses that they not only work to affect traditional political arenas, but also develop an internal reflective perspective that produces discussions and reflections on marginalised voices, their own privileges, and hierarchical meeting structures. With a perspective on everyday interactions, it becomes interesting not only to study the major transformation in what societal changes youth activists aim to bring about, but likewise to look inside the youth organisations to study the ideals that guide how young people negotiate and practise what they perceive as the right way to be activists.
TitelHandbook on Youth Activism
RedaktørerJerusha Conner
Antal sider14
ForlagEdward Elgar Publishing
Publikationsdato20 feb. 2024
ISBN (Trykt)978 1 80392 321 5
ISBN (Elektronisk)978 1 80392 322 2
StatusUdgivet - 20 feb. 2024


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