Civic engagement among young people 2001-2011 

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Aims and Research Questions

The aims of CELS-CiT are to:

  1. Investigate citizen participation and engagement amongst 18 to 20 year olds as they negotiate early adulthood in a post-modern, digital society.
  2. Gauge the extent and nature of continued citizenship education experiences amongst 18 to 20 year olds in formal and informal education and training settings, and the impact on their knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours.
  3. Link the new CiT study with the CELS study, making it possible to examine the development of citizen engagement from age 11 to 20 (i.e. from adolescence into early adulthood).
  4. Model the nature and range of factors that impact on citizen engagement in early adulthood, including current, proximal ones as well as more distal, background factors relating to attitudes, behaviours and experiences from adolescence (CELS) as well as demographic characteristics and community ties.
  5. Compare and contrast citizenship participation and engagement among a cohort in England at age 20 with cross-national groups in Britain, who have not been exposed to the statutory citizenship education curriculum.
  6. Contribute to interdisciplinary theory-building by bringing together distinct theoretical traditions from political science (models of political participation), education (socialisation through education phases, institutions, and programmes) and sociology (youth transition into adulthood and political socialisation in post-modern society).
  7. Throw light on the future of political socialisation and participation in Britain.

The overarching question being investigated as part of CELS-CiT is:

How are young people's citizenship practices changing, and what role has statutory citizenship education played in shaping young people's citizenship practices?

Under this broad question, we will tackle four key sub-questions, namely:  

  1. How is civic and political engagement changing among young people? Are they giving up some traditional forms of participation (such as voting) altogether, while getting involved in new forms, such as internet-based participation and consumer participation?
  2. How does the process of political socialisation work among adolescents and young adults in the post- modern, digital society? What are the roles of their families, friends, schools, communities and use of new media in this process? Has the introduction of compulsory citizenship education in schools had any significant long-term impact on the participation, engagement and voluntary activity of young adults?
  3. How do civic norms develop over time in adolescents and young adults and what accounts for variations in their development across different individuals and groups?
  4. How do we educate and prepare young people to undertake their rights and responsibilities as adult citizens and what changes need to be made in the future?