‘“The outraged young”: young Europeans, civic engagement and the new media in a time of crisis’

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Public involvement in traditional political institutions has declined significantly over the past few decades, leading to what some have seen as a crisis in citizenship. This trend is most striking amongst young people, who have become increasingly alienated from mainstream electoral politics in Europe. Nevertheless, there is overwhelming evidence to show that younger citizens are not apathetic about ‘politics’ – they have their own views and engage in democracy in a wide variety of ways that seem relevant to their everyday lives. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, young Europeans have borne the brunt of austerity in public spending: from spiralling youth unemployment, to cuts in youth services, to increased university tuition fees. In this context, the rise and proliferation of youth protest in Europe is hardly surprising. Indeed, youth activism has become a major feature of the European political landscape: from mass demonstrations of the ‘outraged young’ against political corruption and youth unemployment, to the Occupy movement against the excesses of global capitalism, to the emergence of new political parties. This article examines the role that the new media has played in the development of these protest movements across the continent. It argues that ‘digitally networked action’ has enabled a ‘quickening’ of youth participation – an intensification of political participation amongst young, highly educated citizens in search of a mouthpiece for their ‘indignation’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)pp. 217-31
Number of pages15
JournalInformation, Communication and Society
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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