Tuning out or left out? Participation and non-participation among young people

Therese O'Toole, Michael Lister, Dave Marsh, Su Jones, Alex McDonagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

168 Citations (Scopus)


The issue of political participation, and particularly youth political participation, has received a great deal of attention in recent years. The reason is obvious. The turnout in the 2001 general election was 59%, down 12% from the turnout in 1997, and 25% from a post-war high of 84% in 1950. In relation to young people, in 2001 it is calculated that the turnout rate for 18–24 year olds was only 39%— down 27% from the 1997 election turnout.1 Similarly, membership of political parties has declined significantly, with both major political parties having barely more than 300,000 members. Party membership, particularly of the Conservative Party, is ageing and youth political parties barely exist in numerical, if not in organizational, terms. To put it another way, the combined membership of British political parties is a little over two-thirds of the membership of the largest UK interest group, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.2 These figures worry politicians, journalists and the ‘chattering classes’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


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