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The politics of young people

by YPU Admin on June 27, 2014, Comments. Tags: politics, Research, social sciences, and Sociology


My name is Aimee Harragan and I am just coming to the end of my first year of a PhD in Sociology. My research focuses on young people aged 16 – 30 years and what politics means to them. There is no right or wrong answer to this, instead my work aims to talk to young people and understand if and how politics affects their day-to-day lives. I am particularly interested in the role media (TV, Radio, Papers and News Apps) plays in young people’s daily routine.

In Depth

A PhD is like an extended project and allows students to spend 3 years focused on one piece of research. Sociology is the study of human societies and the way they work. I became interested in young people and politics through my experience of citizenship classes at school. The government had just made these compulsory, and despite being at a good school, these classes were a boring hour of box-ticking! Citizenship classes were supposed to be a chance to explore current issues, have debates and understand ways that we can challenge the government on the decisions which impact everything we experience everyday; from the price of milk to the length of the school day. The media also likes to highlight examples of young people seeming uninterested in politics – like voting, young people are the least likely group to vote in government elections. But if I was not being taught how to understand politics, and other people don’t vote in political elections, how does everyone else come to understand and take part in politics?

I decided to follow this trail of understanding politics and decision-making through my A-Levels, my Undergrad Degree and Master’s Degree in Sociology and finally here, my PhD.  I hope that my work will help to clear up what we mean by politics and the ways young people can influence decisions, maybe this will be through education but also through broader organisation in the community.  I hope to show people that young people are interested in current issues and the decisions that affect their lives; this is overlooked by politicians and other authorities. I really enjoy this research because I meet lots of interesting young people who are the future decision makers!

Going Further

Find out more and get involved with some of these great organisations dedicated to the views and opinion of young people:

·  Bite the Ballot: is a not for profit organisation that empowers young people to speak up and act, to make their votes and opinions count.

·  Youth Parliament: Run by young people, the UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11-18 year-olds to use their voice in creative ways to bring about social change.

·  British Youth Council: empowers young people across the UK to have a say locally, nationally and internationally.

·  Citizenship Foundation: The Citizenship Foundation inspires young people to take part in society as equal members.

·  Reclaim Project: is a leadership and mentoring project based in Manchester. The project empowers young people across the North West to make positive changes in their communities and to find inner strength and self belief.

Click here: to find out more about Sociology at the University of Manchester, or about other research taking place in the Social Sciences: