Political Participation and Citizen Engagement: Beyond the Mainstream

David MARSH, Sadiya AKRAM

    Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

    15 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    There is no doubt that the nature of political participation is changing in liberal democracy. At first, many researchers argued that the main feature of this change was an increase in political apathy (for a discussion of this literature see Marsh, O’Toole, and Jones 2007). To support that view, they pointed particularly to a decline in voting, where it was not compulsory, and in political party membership; often together seen in terms of a process of partisan dealignment (Dalton and Wattenberg 2000). However, more recently this view has been critiqued, with many suggesting that political participation has not declined, rather the forms that it takes have changed and that the mainstream literature underestimates the extent of these changes (see e.g. Marsh, O’Toole, and Jones 2007). This issue of Policy Studies addresses some of the key questions involved in these debates and in this introduction we want to provide the background for what follows, by outlining the main concerns of the recent more critical literature, many of which are explored in the articles in this volume. More specifically, we focus upon four crucial issues discussed in this literature; how we conceptualise the ‘political’ when talking of ‘political participation’, how we can conceptualise the links between connective and collective action and online and offline ‘political’ activity; the relationship between duty norms and engagement norms and between project identities and oppositional or legitimating identities; and the putative rise of what Henrik Bang terms as Everyday Makers (EMs).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-531
    Number of pages9
    JournalPolicy Studies
    Volume36
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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