The Role of Social Movements in Youth Political Participation

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 11:30 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Reelika PIRK , Institute of International and Social Studies, Tallinn University, Estonia
In the debate of youth political engagement social movements have a crucial role to play. In many contemporary democratic societies political culture is facing a crisis of legitimacy. Scholars around the world have stated that the level of traditional political participation is decreasing, especially among young people. On the other hand, there are opposite views, claiming that instead of being politically disengaged, young people are looking for (new) forms for participating in society, as they simply address social issues differently. Thus, new social movements (as well as Internet and single-issue activism etc.) are considered to be new platforms for young peoples´ political activism.

This paper is based on case study of ethical-moral values promoting animal rights movement in Estonia. A youth group that consists of politically minded young people who actively participate in and address different issues of the society. The paper explores the importance of social movement activism in sphere of political participation. Especially, it first analyzes how young people conceive their participation and role in society. Secondly, how young activists address political issues through social movements. And thirdly, what challenges they face when participating in socio-political sphere through social movements. The empirical data set includes open-ended interviews and informal conversations as well as participant observations and secondary data sources.