Westminster Seminar: Young Adults and Politics Today

Disconnected and disaffected, or engaged and enraged?

New findings from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study.

Hosts: Right Hon. David Blunkett MP, LLAKES Research Centre, UCL Institute of Education, and the Citizenship Foundation.

This event, held on 17 March 2015, focused on the latest patterns of political engagement among young adults in Great Britain, and reflect upon the role of life transitions and Citizenship education in contributing to these patterns.

In the run up to the 2015 general election, the issue of youth voting has once again been the subject of much media
and political debate. A key question that runs through these debates concerns the ways in which young people can be
engaged in politics, and their turnout levels in elections increased.

The Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) helps us answer this question. This 12-year study has followed the
first cohort to have had statutory Citizenship education in schools, starting at age 11. These young people are now in their 20s, and can give us unique insight into the political attitudes of younger voters, and how these evolve during adolescence.

CELS tells us that over 80% of these young adults have with little or no trust in politicians, yet 50% still see it as their duty to vote. It also lets us see how citizenship education can increase political interest and participation, yet politicians’
concentration on dependable older voters can overlook critical issues for this very different age group.

The speakers at the event were:

  • Right Hon. David Blunkett MP.
  • Professor Andy Green, Director of the LLAKES Research Centre
  • Dr. Avril Keating, Senior Lecturer in Comparative Social Science, LLAKES Research Centre
  • Mike Sani, Bite the Ballot
  • David Kerr, Consultant Director of Education, Citizenship Foundation and University of Bristol

research briefing paper for the event is now also available, along with the presentation delivered by Dr Avril Keatin.