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Politisk socialisation: Ett forskningsområde som söker sin identitet
Mid Sweden University, Faculty of Science, Technology and Media, Department of Information Technology and Media.
2003 (Swedish)In: Politiikka, ISSN 0032-3365, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Helsingfors: statsvetenskapliga föreningen , 2003. no 2
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-8049OAI: oai:DiVA.org:miun-8049DiVA: diva2:133082
Available from: 2009-01-07 Created: 2009-01-07 Last updated: 2009-01-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Ungdomar, Utveckling och Utmaning: Studier av samhälls- och identitetsskapande processer i 1990-talets ungdomspolitik
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ungdomar, Utveckling och Utmaning: Studier av samhälls- och identitetsskapande processer i 1990-talets ungdomspolitik
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Society and Identity- Developments and Challenges in Swedish Youth Politics in the 1990´s. There are many ways to describe and value young people’s interest and engagement in politics. While some defend extraparliamentarian activism as an important road to political engagement, others stress the need for young people to become familiar with the political system. These two contradictory views express a common concern for the importance of involving the young in the political process – this is an issue that the system has to deal with. Should the established political system affirm the youths’ active participation and desire to make a change? Is it possible to do this without a loss of respect for democracy? Is it possible to develop democracy without changing it radically Behind these questions, lies the deeper question about how the established democratic system, in practice in the state and municipalities, handle a) the political involvement of youths and b) the transmission of democratic values to new generations. Furthermore, these questions are based on the fundamental assumption that a democratic culture can only be communicated and upheld through processes of political socialization, where norms, knowledge and values are passed on from one generation to the next. In order for this particular kind of communication to succeed, it is crucial that people see their citizenship in a democratic society as an important part of their identity. One of the main functions of the democratic political system is to create and uphold identities and attitudes that are intimately connected to the system itself. Therefore, the political institutions are central actors in the communication process of political socialization. Communication is a paradoxical concept. It is a human activity that everyone is involved in, but few can define unambiguously. Professor James Carey, who analyses the concept in Communication as culture, essays on media and society (1989), introduced the idea of communication as ritual. Although broad in meaning, this definition highlights communication as central in the construction of both society and identity. Society exists and works through the communication between people and because we learn the codes of interaction that exist in the societal context: But, whatever the details of the production and reproduction of social life, it is through communication, through the intergraded relations of symbols and social structure, that societies, or at least those with we are most familiar, are created, maintained, and transformed. In this dissertation, the notion that communication is pivotal in the formation of both society and identities, is fundamental. Communication is the core of democratic development and the passing on of democratic values from one generation to the next. Political socialization is a question of communication processes. Objective and research questions The objective of this dissertation is to investigate how the main actors in the Swedish political system; the state and the municipalities, deal with processes of society- and identity formation. This is achieved through an analysis of the perspectives on political socialization that are expressed by these actors in youth politics in the 1990’s. Three main research questions are central in this dissertation: Do the state and the municipalities understand their role in the process of political socialization as mainly hierachical or interactive? How is the role of the youth construed by these actors? Are they seen as active or passive in the process of political socialization? Do these actors regard political socialization chiefly as a matter of continuation or as development? Over the years, political socialization research has generated different views on the youth, democracy development and the political system. Early research tended to regard the youth as a passive group in a hierarchical political system that acted mainly on behalf of it’s own preservation. This perspective saw political socialization as a matter of teaching the young to assimilate to the existing political system. Later research has shown that the process is more interactive than was previously thought: youths are influenced, but at the same time they also influence others. This shift in perspective raises questions of how the political system construes the process of political socialization, it’s own role in this process, the role the youth and ultimately; how democracy best can be developed. Conclusion The findings of the different studies in this dissertation show an overwhelmingly hierarchical construal of political socialization by the state and the municipalities. The idea of interactivity and development, advocated by later research, is only visible in some of the municipalities. Furthermore, youths are considered as having some political awareness, but this awareness needs to be cultivated through teaching. Therefore, youths are seen as passive receivers in the communicative process of political socialization – and not as active participants. At the same time, –on a rhetorical level–both the state and the municipalities express an ambition to create possibilities for youths to take responsibility and to find their own organizational solutions for political engagement. However, this dissertation also shows that this ambition is nowhere matched by any willingness to change the existing system, if that is what is required in order for the youth to develop own organizational solutions. The state regards the process of political socialization from a perspective of continuation and conservation. Youths are therefore mainly seen as a problem until they have reached a level of political awareness that allows them to function within the existing political system. The municipalities wants to get involved in the political socialization of youths through their “youth-councils”, but it is obvious that the main perspective is one of socialization into the existing political system. In order to be able to participate and have influence on decision-making, youths have to learn the form and the language required by the existing political system. It is not, according to the municipalities, the system that needs to change. The state and the municipalities consider youths as mouldable object that also have the ability to participate and shape society. When the states and municipalities’ assumptions about the youth’s political interests and enthusiasm do not correlate to the youth’s, the process of identity-formation becomes paradoxical. A hierarchical system meets young people who do not want to interact with the system. A system aimed at its own continuation and preservation of the existing order, that mainly aims to teach youths to fit into the system, will meet youths who want to create new forms of organizations. Therefore, when the state and municipalities in the ambition of socializing youths into the political system, shut the door to real participation and influence that would mean actual change and development, it is perhaps not so surprising that some youths canalize their political commitment through extraparliamentary activism. On a rhetorical level everyone applauds ideas of development of the political system. But in reality, the state and the municipalities regard this development as challenging when the suggested changes threatens the established order.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sundsvall: Mittuniversitetet, 2009. 236 p.
Series
Mid Sweden University doctoral thesis, ISSN 1652-893X ; 65
Keyword
Ungdomar, politisk kommunikation, politisk socialisation
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:miun:diva-8157 (URN)DEMICOM (Local ID)978-91-86073-21-3 (ISBN)DEMICOM (Archive number)DEMICOM (OAI)
Public defence
2009-01-30, Lubbesalen, Mittuniversitetet, Sundsvall, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-01-12 Created: 2009-01-09 Last updated: 2009-01-12

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