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    Young People's Orientations Towards Contemporary Politics: Trust, Representation and Participation

    Ellison, Mark ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9019-6582, Pollock, Gary ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6673-2368 and Grimm, Robert (2020) Young People's Orientations Towards Contemporary Politics: Trust, Representation and Participation. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 23 (6). pp. 1201-1226. ISSN 1434-663X

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    Abstract

    Over the last thirty years voter turnout in elections at both national and European levels has in many countries fallen albeit with some notable increases in the most recent years. This, together with a decline in the perception of political efficacy and falling trust in political institutions, has been argued to have resulted in a democratic deficit. Drawing on original data from thirty research locations in fourteen European countries as part of the MYPLACE (Memory, Youth, Political Legacy and Civic Engagement) project we explore young people’s attitudes towards politics and their political behaviour. Our research confirms findings in existing literature: many young people feel that their political system is not working for them. Our results show that many young people harbour deep-seated cynicism towards the political class and tend not to trust political institutions including parliament and political parties. We also demonstrate, however, that the majority of young people are, in fact, interested in politics. Moreover, young people tend to support democracy as a political system. They also continue to perceive voting as the most effective form of participation. That a considerable number of young people are not actively participating in political processes is at odds with their professed beliefs. This paper contributes to understanding the contemporary political orientation of young people by exploring both their attitudes and behaviour.

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