Session 1: Political Participation, Multiplicity and Citizenship

Session 1: Political Participation, Multiplicity and Citizenship
Chair: Alejandro Cervantes-Carson

Youth Engagement: The Impact of the Quality of Participation Experiences on Political Development
Cristina Nunes de Azevedo
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Porto, Porto, Portugal

The increasing distrust on political issues and individualism of contemporary societies seems to contribute to decreasing levels of participation in the civil society, particularly between young people. Nevertheless, research has shown that civic participation is crucial to uphold the consolidation of democracies and to promote civic engagement in adulthood, since youngster’s civic experiences are pointed out as their predictor. In relation to young people, the educational contexts where they spent a significant part of their daily lives have a relevant developmental role in terms of the quality of participation experiences – a mediator of the impact on political development of adolescents, mainly in terms of attitudes and behaviors. Recent research has examined civic mission of the youth organizations in providing opportunities to adolescents’ involvement, but very little longitudinal research has studied the quality of participation experiences on political development.
This study, using a cohort-sequential longitudinal method, involves 616 students from four moments of data collection with three overlapping cohorts (4×3). Our aim is to explore the evolution of youngster’s participation experiences and its quality along and across time, identifying which factors uphold participation experiences and analysing the impact of those experiences in behavioural and attitudinal dimensions of young people political development. Results show that the quality of juvenile participation has a significant impact on the youngster’s dispositions to be politically active in the future. As higher the quality of previous participation experiences is, more dispositions to be politically active young people have. The implication of these findings for the design of intervention projects in this domain will be discussed. Results seem to reinforce the role of adolescents’ life contexts and of quality of experiences in the promotion of the political development.


One or Many Citizenships? Re-thinking Citizenship and Citizenship Education
Johan Nordensvärd
Department of Political Science, Oldenburg University, Germany

According to Himmelman the western world has reached “post-industrial, post-modern, post-national, post-ideological and post-metaphysical times.” (2004:107) where youth is, perceived by some, to suffer from a political apathy and nihilism (ibid) or at least not keen to engage themselves in the traditional offerings from the liberal representative and capitalist democracy. This has brought an intensified discussion around ‘re-inventing citizenship’ and ‘re-vitalizing citizenship education’.(Ibid)
Citizenship tends to be singular in its scientific perception and it has been connected to the nation state. The nation state has been –and still is today- one of the most dominant aspects of contemporary society. Citizenship education has itself to be understood through the nation state and its development. In this sense, Civics is affected by the type of state, since Civics is about the relationship between the city (a role occupied in modernity by the nation state) and the citizen. An important question is then what the goals of civic education should be in a time where the nation state is no longer the prime definer of the goals and content of curricula? What is citizenship today? This question is of course posed when citizenship is challenged through globalisation, immigration and late-capitalism.
This paper argues that we can not talk about one citizenship today, but that citizenship can change from situation and person. Gareth Morgan investigated in his book “Images of Organisation” how models and theory could not just help, but also limit the understanding of organisations. In his book he presents different metaphors for the organization and discusses the different pros and cons with every metaphor. The paper which I am going to present poses the question if we can describe citizenship through different metaphors. It asks the question if there are different kinds of citizenship in society and if every person has different rights and duties in different situations. My paper also argues that thinking about citizenship through different metaphors is a way to open citizenship for political pluralism and cultural multiplicity. It is also a way to critically scrutinize the different ideological implications of the different “images of citizenship” that exists in today’s society.

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Cultural Citizenship, Media and Design in Current Italian Activist Practices
Ilaria Vanni
Institute for International Studies, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW, Australia

This paper explores the central role of images, design and media in the creation of new political communities in contemporary Italian activism around precarity – the casualization of work and its social implications. It considers how emerging cultural production and practices made possible by access to various media become forms of cultural citizenship when charged with political significance.
The experimental character of political practices in the past four decades of Italian history have led to the definition of Italy as a political laboratory – laboratorio Italia marked by a continuous exchange between theory and praxis (Hardt 1996).
The last 4 years in Italy have seen the proliferation of activist practices that has marked a shift from militant politics intended a strategic relation between political theory and practice to forms of resistance including direct and highly tactical actions build around communication. Activism merges with design and media practices that take a dynamic political role in the promotion of social change, while simultaneously providing a critical commentary of social and political issues in contemporary Italy. Within the laboratorio Italia the panorama of activism, visual culture and media is at a crucial stage. Street and real life demonstrations have met and hybridized with new media and technologies. Political theory has met new media theory.
This paper builds on Hardt’s idea of Italy as laboratory of political experimentation by looking at the contact zones between creative and media practices and activism in relation to notions of visual culture, imagination, performative, network and the dialogic.
Special attention is dedicated to the way various types of media, from mailing lists to websites, from free newspaper to mediated actions, from objects to images are used to create and organize new political communities and to deploy new forms of cultural citizenship ‘from below’.