There is no shortage of pundits who decry what is wrong with youth today, especially when it comes to the subject of political participation and civic engagement. They describe a generation that does not vote, does not follow the news, is uninformed about current political issues, and does not engage with public life - in short, a disaffected, disengaged, and politically cynical cohort. Youth are seen as a symptom of, and a contributor to, a decline in democracy much lamented in recent academic research (for example, Putnam, 2000). Many embrace what Osler and Starkey (2003) have labelled as a ‘deficit model, which defines young people as less good citizens’ (p. 245). The problematic phenomena identified by these critics are precisely those detailed in the earlier sections of this book, namely declining participation in elections and political parties; we know that it is predominantly young people who are less likely to engage in these activities.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1057/9780230240902_13
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Saunders, E. (Eileen). (2009). Youth engagement, civic education, and new vehicles of political participation. In Activating the Citizen: Dilemmas of Participation in Europe and Canada (pp. 257–275). doi:10.1057/9780230240902_13