The practice of participation: Youth’s vocabularies around on- and offline civic and political engagement

Risultato della ricerca: Working paper


In this paper and based on in-depth interviews with young people aged 14-25 years who are active in youth voluntary associations, youth councils, students’ unions, political parties or social movements, a qualitative portrait of young people’s civic and political participation is presented. It draws on Bourdieu’s theory of practice and on culturalist perspectives regarding participation in order to overcome the unproductive myth of youth disaffection. Rather, in this paper it is argued that participation can be better understood as a socially embedded and contingent online/offline practice that is shaped by the interrelation between habitus, capital and fields. Young people who share vocabularies of participation also adhere to a shared habitus of participation produced by different combinations of resources and experiences of political socialisation. Vocabularies of participation are articulated in three interrelated dimensions: 1) a vocabulary of citizenship orientation, which includes young people’s own understanding of participation, their political knowledge and values, as well as their self-positioning in the political field; 2) a vocabulary of citizenship practices, that is, the scale and repertoires of participation; 3) a vocabulary of digital engagement, including young people’s own understanding of the digital world and its participatory potential, which is grounded in their own citizenship orientation and their scale and repertoires of offline participation, as well as enabling certain online activities while inhibiting others.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Numero di pagine24
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2015


  • Bourdieu
  • digital literacy
  • habitus
  • internet
  • participation
  • young people


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