Precarious choices
: On the influence of young people’s precarity on abstention from elections

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Why don’t young people vote? This thesis develops a synthesis of theories of precarity by Marie Jahoda, Pierre Bourdieu, and Judith Butler in order to connect youth transitions and political participation. The novel conceptualisation understands precarity as a socially induced condition of psychosocial disintegration which inhibits political participation.
This approach is empirically assessed using data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England 2004-10, with participants being 13 to 20 years old. Using Latent Class Analysis (LCA), experiences of precariousness are identified in each wave along six dimensions proposed by Jahoda. In longitudinal perspective they are together situated in a space of precarity, using Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA). This way, trajectories of young people between states of precarity over time are observed and condensed into a typology of four classes of youth practice. Adding these classes of social practice to the conventional models of voting and alienation yielded significant findings, thus proving the guiding hypothesis about the impact of precarity on young people’s abstention from elections.
In addition to the aforementioned theoretical contribution, this research speaks to literature in the field of youth studies and political participation research, and argues for a thorough entanglement of youth transitions and civic subjectification. Thirdly, the thesis champions the use of MCA for youth research, especially with longitudinal data.
Date of Award23 Jan 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorWill J Atkinson (Supervisor) & Paula Surridge (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • youth
  • political sociology
  • precarity
  • Bourdieu
  • Butler
  • Jahoda

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