Youth Political Participation Under Neoliberal Hegemony

Allsop, Bradley (2020) Youth Political Participation Under Neoliberal Hegemony. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

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Youth Political Participation Under Neoliberal Hegemony
PhD Thesis
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Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
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Abstract

This thesis seeks to develop an in-depth analysis of how neoliberal thought and policies have
impacted on youth political engagement in the UK, specifically by attempting to understand how
macro-economic and other public policies can influence the individual psychology of citizens and
their subsequent behaviour. The thesis introduces the concept of political engagement and its
importance, before moving on to chart the trends in youth political engagement over the past few
decades, as well as common explanations for youth engagement, or its lack thereof. The thesis then
sets out a clear definition and explanation of neoliberalism and summarises six key neoliberal
impacts particularly pertinent to political engagement: marketisation and the tension this brings with
democratic norms; responsibilisation narratives; increased inequality; the changing character of the
state through privatisation and deregulation; the preference among policy-makers for ‘expert rule’;
and repression of labour. It argues that the main psychological effects that result, and which
underpin and define the personal experience of neoliberal policy, are declines in political efficacy and
increases in individualism. The argument presented in the early chapters of the thesis is that
neoliberalism harms political engagement through this reduction of political efficacy and an increase
in individualism, an argument then tested with empirical research detailed in later chapters.
The methods and results of the primary research undertaken are then discussed - a sequential
explanatory mixed methods approach, involving first a quantitative survey measuring political
engagement, individualism and political efficacy, followed by in-depth interviews exploring these
concepts and their relationships. The findings indicate that individualism does not seem to have an
overall effect on political engagement, but political efficacy has a moderately positive, significant
correlation with political engagement. There are interesting findings when individualism is divided
along the lines of ‘Vertical’ and ‘Horizontal’ (following the theory of Triandis & Gelfand, 1998),
whereby Vertical Individualism is found to have a negative relationship with political consumerism
specifically. The interview stage is analysed using thematic analysis, and highlights several key
themes, including a deep sense of concern over the future of the planet and the state of politics, a
perceived connection between knowledge and the right or ability to engage politically, and the
socially embedded nature of politics. These findings are collated and discussed along with the
literature in the final chapter, where the future of neoliberalism and youth political engagement are
also considered.

Keywords:neoliberalism, Youth Politics, political engagement
Subjects:L Social studies > L380 Political Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:48449
Deposited On:04 Mar 2022 12:32

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