Young people, political participation and trust in Britain

Henn, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-1063-3544 and Foard, N. ORCID: 0000-0001-7775-1230, 2012. Young people, political participation and trust in Britain. Parliamentary Affairs, 65 (1), pp. 47-67. ISSN 0031-2290


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Young people in Britain are often characterised as disconnected from the formal political process and from democratic institutions. Certainly their rate of abstention in general election contests over the last decade has led to concerns amongst the political classes that they have a disaffection from politics that is deeply entrenched and more so than was the case with previous youth generations, and may in the future become habit-forming. In this article, we consider the results from an online national survey of 1,025 British 18 year olds conducted in 2011, and compare these with the results from a similar study conducted by one of the authors in 2002. In doing so, our aim is to assess the extent to which young people's levels of political engagement have changed over the course of the intervening years, and if so, how they have changed. The results from this comparison indicate that, contrary to popular wisdom, today's generation of young people are interested in political affairs, and they are keen to play a more active role in the political process. However, their recent experience of their first general election in 2010 has left them feeling frustrated. Indeed, our study has revealed a considerable aversion to formal, professional politics which is as deep today as it was for the predecessor 2002 youth cohort.

Item Type: Journal article
Description: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Parliamentary Affairs following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version HENN, M. and FOARD, N., 2012. Young people, political participation and trust in Britain. Parliamentary Affairs, 65 (1), pp. 47-67 is available online at:
Publication Title: Parliamentary Affairs
Creators: Henn, M. and Foard, N.
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Place of Publication: Oxford
Date: 2012
Volume: 65
Number: 1
ISSN: 0031-2290
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: EPrints Services
Date Added: 09 Oct 2015 10:20
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2017 13:26

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