This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 727025.
Professor Grasso is Principal Investigator for the cross-national panel survey work-package on a new Horizon 2020 collaborative project on youth political participation and inequalities:
Awarding Body: European Commission Horizon 2020 Call H2020-SC6-REV-INEQUAL-2016-2017
People Involved: Maria Grasso, Katherine Smith and partners from other European institutions in a consortium led by Marco Giugni (University of Geneva)
Title of Research: Reinventing Democracy in Europe: Youth Doing Politics in Times of Increasing Inequalities (EURYKA)
Amount: €621,870 Professor Grasso (€2,595,720 for the whole consortium)
Duration: 36 months from 1 February 2017
Abstract: EURYKA aims to study the relations between inequalities and young people's ways of doing politics and to advance scenarios for future democratic models and political systems in Europe that are more inclusive for young people. To achieve this, it will: (1) provide systematic evidence on the mechanisms for coping with inequalities which are embedded in young people's ways of doing politics; these coping mechanisms are manifested in multiple forms, for example, as either political (dis)engagement and contestation online and offline or as (trans-)national democratic innovation and experimentation; (2) generate knowledge on young people's values, attitudes, and behaviors related to democracy, power, politics, policymaking, social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life in order to identify ways to strengthen youth political participation and engagement with democratic life in Europe; (3) suggest a set of future scenarios for the development of democracy and political participation in Europe, placing particular emphasis on empowering young people especially those with fewer opportunities. The research design consists of a multidimensional theoretical framework that combines macro-level (institutional), meso-level (organizational), and micro-level (individual) explanatory factors, and an integrated methodological approach based on multiple sources and methods (policy analysis, claims-making analysis, organizational survey, panel survey, survey experiments, biographical interviews, and social media analysis).
EURYKA has three main objectives:
1. A descriptive objective
To provide systematic evidence on the ways in which inequalities are lived by young people and (re)acted upon, exploring the coping mechanisms which are embedded in young people's ways of doing politics. These mechanisms are manifested in multiple forms, namely as either political (dis-) engagement and contestation online and offline or as national and transnational democratic innovation and experimentation across different polities in Europe today. To reach this objective EURYKA embarks on a robust analysis of young people's coping mechanisms to deal with inequalities including an analysis of what young people themselves understand by the political, by political practices and democracy. It explores young people's norms, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors regarding democracy, power, politics, policy-making as well as social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life. In contrast to previous research, which has examined youth participation in quite a segmented manner, EURYKA puts forward an integrated theoretical approach encompassing the complexity of youth experience in different socio-economic contexts. In order to understand the different ways in which inequalities are lived by young people and (re)acted upon, in the political sphere, inequalities by age/generation, gender, educational level, class and ethnic belonging are examined closely as well as their intersectionalities. Moreover, EURYKA explores intra- and inter-generational inequalities to understand the role of inequalities both within and between generations for the functioning of democracy.
2. An explanatory objective
To advance knowledge on the conditions and causes underpinning young people's ways of doing politics. This involves an examination of their norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors regarding democracy, power, politics, policy-making, social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life in order to identify ways to strengthen youth political participation and engagement more broadly and to reinvent democracy in Europe. In contrast to previous research, which was often limited to a given level of analysis, EURYKA adopts an integrated methodological approach encompassing the macro-, meso-, and micro-level of analysis as well as their interplay.
3. A prescriptive objective
To suggest a number of different future scenarios of the development of democracy and political participation in Europe, putting particular emphasis on implementing new democratic models that are more inclusive for young people especially those with fewer opportunities. This objective is achieved through building up online “priority action networks” with the aim of facilitating policy learning among policy-makers and civil society stakeholders for reinventing democracy.
The overall design of EURYKA has three main components:
- A multidimensional theoretical framework that combines macro-level (institutional), meso-level (organizational), and micro-level (individual) explanatory factors while taking into account the complexity of youth experience of inequalities and the differential aspects of young people's ways of doing politics in Europe.
- A cross-national comparative design that includes European countries with different degrees of exposure to inequalities and different policy regimes (France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and UK).
- An integrated methodological approach based on multiple sources and methods (an analysis of public policies and practices towards youth, an analysis of actors’ interventions in the public domain on issues relating to youth, an organizational survey, a panel survey, survey experiments, biographical interviews, and an analysis of social media).
At the core of EURYKA's conceptual framework are young people's ways of doing politics as coping mechanisms to deal with inequalities as well as the norms, values, attitudes and behaviors underpinning these mechanisms and relate to issues of democracy, power, politics, policy-making, social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life.
The research runs midstream, upstream, and downstream to provide evidence-based knowledge of the potential for European youth to reinvent democracy and political systems and to bring about social and political change in order to strengthen democratic life in Europe. Midstream, EURYKA examines young people's coping mechanism and their norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors as well as how they vary across individuals, social groups, generations, polities (including country), and time. Upstream, EURYKA studies the conditions and causes of young people’s coping mechanisms and their norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors as well as their variations. Downstream, EURYKA assesses the extent to which such coping mechanisms, norms, values, attitudes, and behaviors may build support for new forms and/or models of social and political organization, and how this may impinge upon the prospects and potential for reinventing democracy and strengthening youth political participation.
EURYKA – Conceptual Framework and relation to Workpackages
EURYKA comprises eight research-based work packages:
1. Policy analysis
Workpackage 1 examines public policies and practices towards promoting youth participation (online and offline) and inclusion across the nine countries of the project as well as at the EU level, thus grasping the macro-level dimension of the study. In particular, there are broad trends across Northern, Southern, Eastern, Central, and Western European countries of our project with relation to specific ways in which young people's inclusion and participation is approached, with some more pro-active welfare state strategies implemented in certain countries and more of an emphasis on family and school in others. Workpackage 1 analysis seeks therefore to provide contextual background information on the institutional treatment of issues of inequalities and social exclusion relating to young people from diverse backgrounds (especially marginalized and socially excluded youth populations that are particularly vulnerable to radicalization) and how these affect young people's ways of doing politics.
2. Political claims analysis
Workpackage 2 studies how young people and young people's way of doing politics are dealt with in the media as well as the presence of organized youth and contestation in the public domain and the claims for new democratic models and social and political change they raise across the nine countries of the project, thus grasping the public meso-level dimension of the study. The aim is to examine the positions of collective actors with regard to issues relating to youth, austerity, and inequalities, how they frame these issues as well as the origins (diagnostic) and potential solutions (prognostic) to youth-related problems such as social and political exclusion. Workpackage 2 also evaluates how policy-makers perceive and frame issues of democracy and political representation relating to youth in a context of austerity and crisis so as to appraise the consistency between actual policies responses and policy rhetoric. Moreover, it looks at the extent young people from diverse backgrounds and national polities support various forms of democracy, how they raise issues in the media (e.g. whether they are engaged in single-issue politics - switching between topics), and what young people understand by the crisis of political legitimacy in specific socio-political environments in each country. Workpackage 2 evaluates in addition the position of the EU as a relevant actor in the public domain on these issues across the nine countries of the project.
3. Organizational analysis
Workpackage 3 looks into young people's ways of doing politics by investigating youth involvement in organizations as a coping mechanism to deal with inequalities. It thus looks into the networks and activities of organizations that are active in the field of youth and into youth-led organizations engaged in activities of social and political inclusion of diverse (gender, educational level, class and ethnic belonging etc.) youth groups and particularly on democratic innovation and experimentation at national (including local) and transnational levels (including activities such as participating in mock simulations of direct and participatory processes, etc.), thus grasping the meso-level dimension of the study. Workpackage 3 aims in particular to reconstruct the patterns of the organizational field (goals, activities, constituencies, networks) in order to learn more about the opportunities that civil society organizations may provide for reimagining democracy and experimenting with new models of representation (e.g. digital) and participation in decision-making at national and transnational (across 2 or more countries) levels. It examines which organizations are active in each country, how relevant these organizations are in terms of size, population coverage, territorial density, etc., what are their goals, methods, activities, etc., what networks they have built amongst each other, how important young people are within the organizations in terms of membership, goals, activities, and identities; and what positive impacts on the reduction of inequalities and the promotion of alternative politics and models of democracy young people can achieve through the organizations. The analysis aims to capture organizations and modes of democratic innovation and experimentation at supranational, EU levels.
4. Panel survey analysis
Workpackage 4 aims to causally disentangle young people's ways of doing politics in a three-fold manner. Firstly, it seeks to retrieve young people's norms, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors regarding democracy, power, politics, policy-making as well as social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life (dependent variable), as well as their individual characteristics that might be associated with that (independent variable), thus grasping the individual-level dimension of the study quantitatively and extensively. Secondly, it examines inter- generational and intra-generational differences in those norms, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors by analyzing panel data (repeated measures within individuals over time). Thirdly, it seeks to analyze both inter- and intra-generational differences allowing for a more thorough assessment of the likely drivers of future attitudes and behaviors than what thus far has been achieved in the literature on quantitative studies of youth. The aim is to compare results with data from the USA and other countries where possible to test whether patterns are applicable to advanced democracies outside of Europe.
5. Experimental analysis
Workpackage 5 conducts a set of experiments with young voters and pre-voting teenagers. In so doing, it seeks to study the causal effect of different dimensions of the youth experience of inequalities and their support and potential for social and political change for strengthening democratic life in Europe that may include avenues for creatively reimagining democracy. Experimental subjects are also confronted with a number of actual political leadership messages to test political (dis-)trust and (dis-) engagement. Moreover, workpackage 5 assesses to what extent different dimensions of the crisis have an independent causal effect on young people’s attitudes and behaviors explored in workpackage 4 to further probe the causal mechanisms. Workpackage 5 builds specific hypotheses based on information retrieved in previous workpackages and considers to what extent the causal effects that the hypotheses imply are moderated by contextual and individual characteristics.
6. Biographical analysis
Workpackage 6 examines the individual trajectories of young people since their childhood in order to see how they influence their ways of doing politics and how inequalities are lived by, and (re-) acted upon, by individual young people in different country and socio-economic contexts. In this respect, workpackage 6 looks into young people's norms, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors regarding democracy, power, politics, policy-making as well as social and political participation (online and offline) and the organization of economic, social and private life, thus grasping the individual-level dimension of the study qualitatively and intensively. This more qualitative investigation complements the quantitative analysis conducted through the panel survey analysis. The aim is to provide information that cannot be retrieved through the latter method. In addition, the aim is to target more specifically young people who are socially or politically engaged in order to see how such an engagement may lead young people to be a driver of social and political change with an emphasis on new ways of political engagement and interaction that may feed into the development of new democratic models that are inclusive to their needs and voices.
7. Social media analysis
Workpackage 7 investigates young people's ways of doing politics online and the impact of inequalities on it, by looking at the usage young people make of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and how digital participation and representation may (or may not) provide the seeds for reinvigorating democracy in Europe. It examines applications such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, as well as various online forums and chats. The goal is to see how see how young people in different countries and socio-economic contexts access and use the social media, how they develop agency and realize their goals online, what they say in social media and how they use the opportunities for online political participation and interaction. Issues of inequalities in digital literacy are tackled in conjunction with the panel survey data collected in workpackage 4. Also, workpackage 7 explores in which ways young people combine connective and collective action as part of their political practices, and under which circumstances connective turn into collective action and vice versa. This is achieved by exploiting the organizational survey and panel survey data collected in workpackage 3 and workpackage 4, and through an analysis of online networking services and a content analysis of Twitter feeds of young people and their Twitter followers, and on the basis of an analysis of organizations and public institutions focusing on youth issues. These analyses allows us to address key issues about young people's norms, values, attitudes, expectations, and behaviors regarding democracy, power, politics, policy-making as well as social and political participation (online) and the organization of economic, social and private life.
8. Prescriptive analysis
Workpackage 8 draws on the research findings obtained in WP1, WP2, WP3, WP4, WP5, WP6, and WP7. It seeks to use the results presented in the integrated reports of each of these workpackages in order to: (1) provide a critical assessment of young people's current links to democracy and ways of doing politics so as to advance recommendations on how to build more inclusive and reflective democracies; (2) sketch out future scenarios of the development of democracy and different policy options for empowering young people for political participation in the democratic life in Europe in the light of varying socio-structural and intra-generational trends in inequalities, putting particular emphasis on implementing new democratic models; (3) examine how more novel, including ad hoc and digitally supported participation repertoires may or may not qualify to substitute for more traditional democratic, especially electoral, participation. Also, workpackage 8 research addresses the following questions: What are the prospects and potential for youth agency and social and political change to strengthen democratic life in Europe? How to transform potential conflict as introduced by the views of young people into healthy democratic engagement? Overall, workpackage 8 seeks to providea prescriptive and normative analysis of how to tackle political disengagement of young people as well as any potential inter-generational clash of worldviews, and create the conditions for a healthy “agonistic” rather than “antagonistic democracy”.