Political Participation and (Digital) Media Usage among Young People

A col­lab­o­ra­tion between d|part and the Bun­deskan­zler-Hel­mut-Schmidt-Stiftung


Young peo­ple in Ger­many are often con­sid­ered as most­ly apo­lit­i­cal by the pub­lic. After years of cli­mate demon­stra­tions, #Black­Lives­Mat­ter, and ini­tia­tives to sup­port refugees, this myth of a polit­i­cal­ly fatigued youth no longer holds up. Fur­ther­more, the inter­net and par­tic­u­lar­ly social media have allowed new ways for polit­i­cal action and posi­tion­ing. On the one hand, there is by now a bet­ter under­stand­ing about how young peo­ple in Ger­many get polit­i­cal­ly involved. On the oth­er hand, there are still gaps in our knowl­edge of what moti­vates young peo­ple to get involved and what are bar­ri­ers for par­tic­i­pa­tion, for exam­ple in elec­tions or polit­i­cal par­ties. Par­tic­u­lar­ly regard­ing moti­va­tions, there is this assump­tion about young peo­ple not vot­ing in elec­tions out of dis­in­ter­est. Not few young peo­ple state, how­ev­er, that they strug­gle to make the “right” polit­i­cal deci­sion due to an over­flow of information.


In coop­er­a­tion with the Bun­deskan­zler-Hel­mut-Schmidt-Stiftung, this project aims to gain a deep­er under­stand­ing about how young peo­ple get polit­i­cal­ly involved and how they absorb polit­i­cal con­tents and infor­ma­tion from deci­sion-mak­ers. How do they deal with poten­tial­ly pop­ulist con­tents and what impact does such infor­ma­tion have on their will­ing­ness to become polit­i­cal­ly involved? What exact­ly do young peo­ple them­selves per­ceive as polit­i­cal infor­ma­tion and where do they search for infor­ma­tion on polit­i­cal deci­sions and decision-makers?


We will address these ques­tions via mixed meth­ods, includ­ing analy­sis of sur­vey data, focus groups, and inter­views. These will involve young peo­ple as well as polit­i­cal deci­sions-mak­ers. The results will be pre­sent­ed to the pub­lic in brief in autumn 2021 and in a com­pre­hen­sive report in sum­mer 2022.


© Image: Leonhard Lenz via Wikimedia Commons