The Significance of Ethnography in Youth Participation Research: Active Citizenship in the UK after the Brexit Vote

Banaji, Shakuntala ; Mejias, Sam ; de la Pava Vélez, Benjamín (2018) The Significance of Ethnography in Youth Participation Research: Active Citizenship in the UK after the Brexit Vote. Sociální studia / Social Studies, 15 (2). pp. 97-115. ISSN 1214-813X
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In comparison to questionnaires, statistical analyses, interviews and experiments, ethnography tends to be a neglected method in youth participation research and in understanding political socialization and citizen action. This, we suggest, is very unfortunate. Where the concerns and experiences of researchers do not match those of young people, it is usually the young people’s perspectives which remain outside the frameworks and conclusions. Drawing on original data and insights from two ethnographies of youth active citizenship initiatives in the UK – My Life My Say and Momentum – collected during a politically tumultuous 8-month period in 2017, this article argues that ethnography has several advantages over other methods when it comes to understanding the depth and significance of youth civic participation and its links to peer groups and emotions. We contend that critical and reflexive ethnographies allow scholars and researchers to ask and probe young people’s perceptions, opinions, actions and behaviours through the use of open-ended questions in settings where civic action is already taking place, thus triangulating findings in natural settings and building a sense of how communities of practice and activism function. In terms of ethics, voice and power, this ethnographic research approach gives young people more control over their own narratives about participation and affiliation in specific political or civic settings than surveys tend to do.

Document type
Banaji, ShakuntalaLondon School of Economics and Political Science
Mejias, SamLondon School of Economics and Political Science
de la Pava Vélez, BenjamínUniversidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano
ethnography; youth active citizenship; brexit; civic participation; Momentum
Deposit date
22 Mar 2019 13:10
Last modified
03 Jun 2019 07:57
Project name
CATCH-EyoU - Constructing AcTive CitizensHip with European Youth: Policies, Practices, Challenges and Solutions
Funding program
EC - H2020

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