Youth Mobilisation and Political Change
Participation, values, policies and discourses between East and West
28-29 November 2019
Centre for East European and International Studies - Mohrenstr. 60 - 10117 Berlin
Youth often plays a key role in bringing about political and social change. But this is especially true in moments of crisis, where youth can provide a highly contested imaginary of a country’s experiences and expectations. This workshop wishes to explore the role of youth in these two interrelated dimensions – youth as actor and symbol – bringing together scholars working on i) youth and political participation ii) social and political values of young people, iii) youth policies, and iv) the discursive meaning-making of youth.
The workshop addresses these topics from a comparative angle looking closely at young people in moments of regime crisis. In this conference, possible case studies can address episodes of regime crisis in authoritarian settings, but also moments of crises in democracies that have seen young people take to the streets. Papers should be targeted to one of the four streams below.
Young people partake less in conventional electoral forms of political participation than adults. Rather, their political engagement lies in non-conventional forms – in flashmobs, pickets, pro-tests or online campaigns. Activism in this form has risen significantly over the last two decades in many countries. Still, we lack a more systematic understanding of the kind of political aims that young people mobilise for and the strategies they adopt. We know little about the role of structural factors and elite decisions. And more broadly, it remains unclear how one ought to assess the success of such mobilisation. Papers in this stream can investigate a wide range of political participation (protest, online, institutional, non-electoral or other) and can further ad-dress the interplay between online, electoral, and non-institutional modes of participation.
Social and political values
‘If you are not left-wing in your 20’s you’ve got no heart’, as a famous saying goes. But it is by no means the case that all young people are progressive and liberals. Recent polls in Russia for instance indicate a widespread sense of nostalgia amongst young people, for an (allegedly) stable and prosperous authoritarian past. While surveys identify conservative political and social out-looks, young people also express various forms of radicalisation, including sympathies for reli-gious or ideological extremes. It is important to gain a finer understanding of the factors that underpin the political attitudes of the young, along with intra-generational and inter-genera-tional divides. Papers in this stream can investigate this topic using quantitative or qualitative evidence, looking at gaps between generations or centre exclusively on younger generations.
A number of public policies target young people by overseeing their transition from the education system into the labour market. The educational system, but also wider family policies, are important factors for understanding the social and political values young people express, as well as their willingness to become politically active. Regimes deal with this transition in various ways and set different priorities in how they understand the position of young people in society. For some, young people are primarily children that need paternalistic protection; others tend to consider young people as responsible adults. Between paternalistic and enabling policies, a great variation is bound to exist. Papers in this stream can investigate this topic with a focus on the different policies that affect young people and work comparatively or focus on one case only.
Youth as a discursive entity
During moments of societal and political reorientation, discourses around youth become particularly fluid. Through the discursive meaning-making of youth, politics and the media can give their country a temporal projection – into an anticipated future, and at the same time, to construct links to the past. This temporal flexibility is at the very heart of youth being such a salient discursive symbol, especially in moments of crisis. Political regimes spend great efforts to influence the discourse about youth, be it through speeches or policies. Papers in this stream can address the changes of the symbol of youth through the use of discourse or text analysis, both qualitative and quantitative.
Furthermore, papers presented at this conference may focus on youth exclusively or present comparative cross-generational analyses, cover a variety of methodological approaches and present original research from various disciplines (political science, sociology, history or public policy).
Please apply with a paper abstract (max. 500 words) and a short CV by 30 April 2019 by email to email@example.com. The programme will be finalised by the end of May 2019. Please note that the workshop is paper-based and first drafts of papers are to be circulated no later than three weeks before the workshop. It is intended to publish selected papers. Funds for travel to Berlin and accommodation are available.