Young people imagining a new democracy: Literature review

8 Sep 2008

This literature review was commissioned by the Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney (UWS) to provide context for the Imagining a New Democracy Project. The project is a collaboration between the Whitlam Institute and the Office of University Engagement at UWS. The Foundation for Young Australians is the primary funding partner. The project seeks:

• to better understand younger Australian’s
attitudes towards and active participation in democratic processes;
• to work with young people to ‘imagine’ how Australian democracy might work better (for them and indeed for all citizens);
• to identify the potential implications for public policy;
• to promote consideration of these matters
by policy-makers and the public.

The literature review explores international and Australian literature on youth participation in democracy. Key word searches were used on a number of sociological and social and political science databases, and in addition, the online libraries of organisations and networks were also scanned for relevant research reports.

In summary, the literature review finds that there is clear evidence that young people in Australia are engaged with political and social issues, but that they feel alienated by formal, institutionalised politics and are less inclined to engage in traditional forms of participation.

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