Young people and political action: who is taking responsibility for positive social change?

ELLIS, S. J. (2004). Young people and political action: who is taking responsibility for positive social change? Journal of Youth Studies, 7 (1), 89-102.


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    A human rights perspective suggests that we are all responsible for ensuring the human rights of others, which in turn ensures that our own human rights are respected and protected. A convenience sample of 108 young people (41 males and 67 females) aged between 16 and 25 completed a questionnaire which asked about (a) levels of involvement in political activity and (b) sense of personal responsibility for ensuring that the human rights of marginalised groups (e.g. ethnic minorities, immigrants, lesbians and gay men) are protected. Findings showed that most respondents supported (in principle) the notion of human rights for all, but tended to engage in low key political activity (e.g. signing petitions; donating money or goods to charity) rather than actively working towards positive social change. Qualitative data collected in the questionnaire suggested three main barriers to respondents viewing themselves as agents of positive social change: (1) "It’s not my problem", (2) "It’s not my responsibility", and (3) a sense of helplessness. Suggestions for how political action might best be mobilised among young people are also discussed.

    Item Type: Article
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Young people, attitudes, human rights, social change
    Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Psychology Research Group
    Identification Number:
    Page Range: 89-102
    Depositing User: Ann Betterton
    Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2007
    Last Modified: 11 May 2018 22:41

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