The popular perception that young people are apathetic about politics is a myth, suggest papers to be presented to the Political Studies Association next week.
Research by the Centre for Communication Research, at Bournemouth University, found that seven out of ten young people felt that democracy was highly relevant to their lives. More than half said they saw political participation as a civic duty.
Roman Gerodimos, an associate lecturer at the centre, will argue at the conference, in Leeds, that young people may not be turned on by traditional forms of political participation but they do want to be involved in civic life.
Chloe Taylor of the department of political science at Birmingham University will argue that despite the record low turnout at the last general election, we are not living in an age of apathy. "The growing numbers taking part in collective acts such as Stop the War demonstrations show that although people often reject more traditional forms of political engagement, they are taking part in alternative activities," she said.
"If we accept that politics is not confined solely to specific arenas of power, it is possible to conclude that participation is not necessarily declining but that people are engaging in alternative ways."