Young Citizens in the Age of Polarization

Young Citizens in the Age of Polarization (YCAP)

The YCAP project studies ethnographically and computationally how young people in Finland today participate in civil society and politics, on- and offline, through four different modes: anti-/proto-politics, empowerment projects, activism, and formal politics.

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The Centre for Sociology of Democracy studies democracy in modern societies. Our projects deal with democracy from different perspectives and with different methods.

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Ethnography and Big Data on Engagement, Participation, and Marginalization

Practicing citizenship in Finnish political culture today is marked by three trends: the crisis of representative democracy, polarization of civil society, and increasing inequality. To identify the consequences these trends have for Finnish democracy, we conduct a research project studying civic engagements of young people through a combination of in-depth ethnography and macro-level Big Data analysis of online discussions.

How do societal contexts of polarization and marginalization, and encounters with state institutions, shape the conditions of citizenship and political participation? What are the ways in which young people engage to pursue politicization?

Conceiving citizenship as action, we define four Modes of Engagement: anti- and proto-politics (MoE 1), empowerment projects (MoE 2), activism and life politics (MoE 3) and formal politics (MoE 4). Each of the four modes are addressed by an ethnographic case “on the ground” and a macro-level Big Data case, employing computational text-analysis, “online”. This provides our project with both the sensitivity and in-depth interpretation of ethnography, and the large representative datasets made possible by new digital methods.

Realization of the project

YCAP is funded by the Academy of Finland, 2016–2020. It is led by PI Eeva Luhtakallio and researchers working in the project currently include three postdocs and two doctoral researchers: Georg Boldt, Veikko Eranti, Maija Jokela, Lotta Junnilainen and Tuukka Ylä-Anttila.