Citizens in Transition in England: The Longitudinal Cohort at age 19-20

David Kerr, Marian Sainsbury, Rebecca Wheater, Linda Sturman, Naomi Rowe

24 January 2012

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This report presents the key findings from the first component of the CiT study, namely the longitudinal element of the survey exploring citizenship participation and engagement among 19-20 year olds in England. It sheds light on the continued impact of the citizenship teaching and learning that young people received in schools, where Citizenship was a statutory subject, and the learning they continue to experience in and beyond their current education, training and work experiences. It also provides insight into their political interest and engagement, particularly against the backdrop of their attitude towards and participation in the 2010 General Election, the first opportunity for this cohort to take part in such an election.

Key Findings

  • Young people aged 19-20 have an encouraging level of interest in politics and a sizeable proportion took their first opportunity to vote in a general election in 2010.
  • They are clear about the issues they think need to be addressed by politicians and the Government, but they lack trust in politicians and over half of them believe that no political party can handle their key issues adequately.
  • They know about voting and elections but, despite identifying the economy as the most important current issue, they are less sure about economic matters and core political institutions (such as the House of Lords or the House of Commons).
  • They view citizenship primarily as being about 'people's rights' and they see 'a good citizen' as someone who obeys the law and contributes to their community.
  • They keep in touch with news mainly through television and/or the internet and show slightly more interest in domestic events than international news. They are interested consumers of news on social networking sites, rather than active users of it.
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