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How place matters for rural young adults’ political practices

Research project Research on young adults’ political engagement provides crucial knowledge for the development and sustainability of democratic institutions and societies. However, a large knowledge gap exists because this research field is based almost exclusively on experiences in urban areas.

Political involvement among young adults outside metropolitan areas has therefore hardly been studied. This knowledge is needed because rural in habitants in Sweden and elsewhere experience dismantling of basic services and believe that their living conditions are not taken seriously. Their political views, party support and trust in democratic institutions differ greatly from urban inhabitants. Our project will examine how young adults in rural areas understand their situation, their political actions and their ability to participate and influence the development of society.

Head of project

Anna-Britt Coe
Associate professor
E-mail
Email

Project overview

Project period:

2020-07-20 2024-07-20

Funding

Företagsforskarskolan
Riksorganisations Hela Sverige ska leva

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Sociology

Research subject

Sociology

Project description

Research on young adults’ political engagement provides crucial knowledge for the development of democratic institutions. Experience with political activities during this life stage is a major predictor of adult participation in politics, and political attitudes, such as trust in democratic institutions, are formed during young adulthood and tend to remain steady into and throughout adulthood. However, a major knowledge gap exists because this research field is based almost entirely on experiences in urban settings. Political engagement among young adults outside metropolitan contexts has therefore hardly been studied.

Our project’s aim is to analyze the political practices among young adults, ages 16-25, in rural settings. We will collect new data through original qualitative research in Sweden. The knowledge generated by this project will shed light on the political practices of young adults outside urban areas and especially in rural settings, filling a crucial knowledge gap. Moreover, it will address the consequences of an urban norm for these practices, adding new understandings of the metropolitan-periphery divide, including as an axis of political conflict implicating young adults.

The new knowledge will in turn contribute to enhancing our conceptual tools for explaining and understanding young adults’ political engagement. Specifically, we will develop the concept of place by using it as a theoretical tool with which to interpret how young adults in rural settings practice politics. Lastly, the new knowledge will contribute to moving beyond the urban bias in research on young adults’ political engagement. This new knowledge will be useful for diverse stakeholders working to strengthen young adults’ influence on society and politics, especially in rural areas, not least our collaborating partner the national grassroots organization Rural Sweden.