Youth Political participation and the role of 'everyday utopias': Redefining time and responsibility

100 Leicester Street, Level 9, Frank Tate Room

Youth Research Centre Seminar

Seminar includes refreshment

Professor Leccardi’s seminar focuses on some characteristics of young people’s political participation today, in a time of increasing scepticism of traditional political organisations and disenchantment towards representative democracy. Based in particular on ongoing research on unconventional political participation among young people in Italy, the seminar aims to mobilise new conceptual tools for the analysis of political participation. Politics is being reinvented at present to make use of new types of temporality, and to connect long-term futures with everyday experiences. It is in this analytical framework that the concept of ‘everyday utopias’ (Davina Cooper) seems to offer a way to focus on what is doable in the everyday while capturing a sense of hope and potentiality. This form of ‘temporal work’ (Michael Flaherty) resonates with the need for young people to intertwine the need to express control of their lives, meaningful relations and subjectivities. A specific role is played, in this frame, by the increasing importance of personal responsibility (like in the struggle for climate justice). Responsibility, here, does not avoid uncertainties and ambivalences. Rather, it expresses young people’s need for an ethical engagement here-and-now.

Carmen Leccardi is professor of Cultural Sociology and director of the PhD program in Applied Sociology and Methodology of Social Research at the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy. From 2013 to 2015 she was President of the European Sociological Association. Prof. Leccardi has published extensively in the fields of social time, youth studies, gender and generations, cultural models and processes of cultural and social change. From a methodological point, she is interested in qualitative research methods, in particular hermeneutical approaches. Her latest book is: Un nuovo individualismo? Individualizzazione, soggettività e legame sociale (A New Individualism? Individualization, Subjectivity and Social Bonds), ed. with P. Volonté, 2017.