Room E, City Hall
Time Slot: 
Wednesday 28th March 09:00 - 10:30
Panel Chair: 
  • Professor Paul Chaney (WISERD, Cardiff University)
Panel Members: 
  • Dr Wil Chivers (Cardiff University)
  • Dr Esther Muddiman (Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods)
  • Dr Daniel Evans (Cardiff Centre for Lifelong Learning)
  • Professor Sally Power (Cardiff University)

This panel will showcase work being undertaken in WISERD on youth political engagement against a backdrop of wide-reaching political disruption. We consider the varied influences of family, formal education, new digital technologies and national context on political socialisation to explore how, where and why young people become politically active.

Both the family and the formal education system can be positioned as key socialising agents – providing young people with a framework for interpreting and traversing the social world. However whilst some argue that formal education is an appropriate vehicle for political socialisation and the dissemination of moral values aligned to ‘good’ citizenship, the presence of the political in schools continues to be contentious. Moreover, drastic changes to the political landscape and to the ways in which young people, in particular, engage with politics has led many to argue that the political experiences and attitudes of today’s youth are irreconcilable with the experiences and attitudes of their parents. One source of this disjuncture might be the rising influence of new digital technologies and the proliferation of online information sources that undermine established narratives and act to diversify political messages. In relation to these changes it is also crucial important to consider the historical role of the nation state in seeking to unpack how young people are positioned as citizens.

In paper one, Daniel Evans considers political education within schools to assess the local and national barriers that may prevent schools from developing as spaces of political engagement. In paper two, Wil Chivers uses the recent ‘McStrike’ to explore how young workers employed in the fast food industry were mobilised via social media in a campaign that focused on personalised stories and voices. In paper three, Esther Muddiman uses the family as a lens for exploring youth political engagement and establishes the significance of relationships with parents and grandparents in young peoples’ political socialisation. In the final paper, Sally Power will compare the political orientations and engagement of young people in Wales and France according to the very different historical configurations of the relationship between the state, the education system and civil society. 

The presentations will be followed by a wider discussion of the challenges and opportunities inherent in young people’s political engagement. We invite attendees to join us in debating the future of young people’s relationship with politics in Wales, the UK and beyond.