Political Engagement among Ethnic Minority Young People

Project Details


Leverhulme Trust funded qualitative research project exploring political engagement and activism among ethnic minority young people.
£73,335; Therese O'Toole (PI); Richard Gale (RF)

Layman's description

When the political engagement of ethnic minority and Muslim young people has featured in public debates, it has typically been connected with concerns about disengagement, disaffection or extremism. Despite the intensity of these debates, there is actually relatively little data to substantiate these concerns. Moreover, there has been rather little recognition of the forms of action in which ethnic minority young people do engage. Between disaffection and political violence, there are a range of forms of political participation, which have received insufficient attention. This project sets out a conceptual and empirical framework that aims to go beyond crisis narratives to explore the ways in which ethnic minority and Muslim young people politically engage.

Key findings

The research engages with debates on ethnic minority and Muslim young people showing, beyond apathy and violent political extremism, the diverse forms of political engagement in which young people engage. It situates its analysis of ethnic minority young people’s politics in relation to four areas of social and political change: changing patterns of citizens’ democratic participation manifested in a shift towards more informal and everyday activism; the emergence of more decentred and participatory forms of governance that have pluralised the sites of political participation; shifting conceptions of identities and ethnicity and their implications for identity politics; and the significance of different scales of activism enabled by new information communication technologies. In so doing, the research identifies ‘new grammars of action’ among ethnic minority young people that help to explain their disaffection with mainstream politics and through which they creatively politically participate to make a difference.
Effective start/end date1/06/0430/11/06

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship
  • Migration Mobilities Bristol


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