Digital democracy: A panacea for youth disengagement?

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 Brainstorm by Jessica Lock from The Noun ProjectWorkshop idea by Dr Andrew Mycock and Simon Campbell-Skelling

All of the workshops at Local Democracy for Everyone have been created by our participants. We’re sharing a summary of each workshop idea to help you decide what you’d most like to participate in – and so that everyone can start to share their comments about each idea.

Digital democracy: A Panacea for youth disengagement?

The challenge:

Research suggests that younger citizens are less engaged in traditional forms of politics than previous generations. Only 44% of 18 to 24 year olds voted in 2010 UK General Election and there has been a marked decline in numbers of young people joining political parties. Young citizens claim they feel excluded from politics, do not trust politicians or understand the language they use, and have a residual sense of powerlessness. This disconnection is particularly acute in local forms of democracy.

There is a growing belief that ‘digital democracy’ has the potential to reverse this trend. 90% of all 16 to 24 year olds connected via the internet (Ofcom 2012). Politicians and others who are interested in our democracy increasingly view the internet and social media as having the potential to encourage and promote democratic engagement and participation amongst young people. Technology could also play a key role in developing political knowledge and understanding.

The workshop will explore what digital democracy is and how it can develop the role of young people in local and national forms of politics. It will draw on evidence from the recent My Country, My Vote project involving local schools in Kirklees, the participation of Kirklees Youth Council in the recent UK parliament commission on digital democracy, and other available youth citizenship research. It aims to encourage participants to consider the potential of digital democracy to:

  1. Enrich the representation of young citizens.
  2. Enhance youth-orientated policy-making.
  3. Empower young citizens to scrutinise (local) government.
  4. Enable new forms of youth citizen engagement.
  5. Encourage citizen dialogue.

#notwestminster #youth

Dr Andrew MycockDr Andrew Mycock
Reader in Politics
University of Huddersfield

Dr Andrew Mycock is Reader in Politics at the University of Huddersfield. His research interests focus on issues of youth citizenship and democratic participation. He served on the UK government’s Youth Citizenship Commission from 2008 to 2009. He recently contributed to the UK Parliament Digital Democracy Commission project, ‘Hardcopy or #Hashtag: Young people’s vision for a digital parliament’.


Simon Campbell-Skelling
Community Heritage and Education Officer

Simon Campbell-Skelling works for Kirklees Council’s Community Heritage and Outreach Team. He is currently working on My Country My Vote. This is a partnership project between the council and the University of Huddersfield which seeks to encourage greater, and more positive, political engagement amongst young people.

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