Young Citizens and Political Participation 2.0: Institutionalized, Critical or just Individually Networked? The Nature, Modality and Motivations of E-Political Participation in a European Comparative Perspective
My research deals with the political online participation of young people in European countries. The research particularly focuses the attention on youngsters that are not-affiliated and not linked to any conventional (political parties) or non-conventional (social movement organisations) political organization, but that are not either completely passive or uninterested in politics. The theoretical framework brings together studies of political participation and protest politics, with a specific focus on young people and post-materialism theories, in the context of new media technologies and of democratic contemporary network society. This is a comparative study that takes into account the multidimensionality of online and offline participation and has an empirical focus. Taking the participant’s perspective enables the study to develop a deeper understanding of how changes in online communication encourage individual political participation of young people. There are three main research questions. First, how and to what extent do information and communication technologies, particularly Web 2.0 tools, and the way active youngsters adopted them, are used as a resource to redefine issues and places of the political as well as the nature of their involvement and commitment in politics? Secondly, what are the motivations that make young individuals participate politically (in different forms), either or both online and offline? Thirdly, to what extent is online participation a tool for affecting perceptions and practices in offline activism? The methodology for data collection is a combination of quantitative (surveys) and qualitative data (in-depth interviews) of young online political participants. This combination will give a general picture of country differences and to have a more in-depth understanding of how youngsters perceive their political participation online and offline.