Creating Agora Chronotopes on Young People's Political Participation in Transnational Meetings

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:15 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Sofia LAINE , Finnish Youth Research Network, Finland
This paper deals with young people’s political participation in transnational meetings. Methodologically the study aims to shed light on multi-sited global ethnography. Young people are viewed here as a social age group sensitive to critical, alternative and even radical political participation. The diversity of the young actors and their actions is captured by using several different methods. The research sites are the EU Presidency Youth Event (2006 Hyvinkää, Finland), the Global Young Greens Founding Conference (2007 Nairobi, Kenya), the European Social Forum (2008 Malmö, Sweden) and three World Social Forums (2006 Bamako, Mali; 2007 Nairobi Kenya and 2009 Belém, Brazil). The data consists of participant observation, documents and media articles of the meetings, interviews, photos, video, and internet data. In this paper the diverse field of youth political participation in transnational agoras is studied by using a cross-table of cosmopolitan resources (or the lack of them) and everyday-makers – expert citizen dichotomy. First, the young participants of the EU Presidency youth event are studied as an example of expert citizens with cosmopolitan resources (these resources include, for example, language skills, higher education and international social network). Second, the paper analyses those everyday-makers who use performative politics to demonstrate their political missions here and now. But in order to make the social movement global they need cosmopolitan resources to be able to use the social media tools and work globally. Third, the paper reflects upon the difficulties of reaching those actors who lack cosmopolitan resources, either everyday-makers or expert citizens. The go-along method and the use of the interpreters are shown as ways to reach these young people’s political missions. Fourth, the paper underlines the importance of ‘contact zones’ for deeper democracy and for boosted dialogue between different kinds of participants.