Youth Political Participation: Bridging Activism and Electoral Politics

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April 28, 2014

Youth Political Participation: Bridging Activism and Electoral Politics

What is the relationship between social movements and electoral politics? Although the empirical reality of American politics has increasingly blurred the lines between activism and electoral politics, sociology has yet to explore these changes and provide theoretical and methodological tools to understand them. Focusing on the experience of young Americans, this review explores this relationship and outlines opportunities for future research. It is broken down into three sections. First, I review the main themes in the study of youth political participation in America. Second, using examples from the 2008 election, the article examines recent increases in youth participation. Third and finally, this article discusses the case of the Obama campaign, its transition into the Democratic National Committee's Organizing for America, and aspects of the 2012 election to highlight the complex relationship between movements and electoral politics in America today. The paper concludes by highlighting opportunities for sociologists to bridge the connections between activism and electoral politics in new and meaningful ways.

Resource type: 
Publisher: 
Annual Reviews
Publication year: 
2012