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Fostering active citizenship in young adulthood

The predictive value of citizenship competences, socialization experiences and academic performance in adolescence
PhD ceremony:Mr E.G.J. Slijkhuis
When:May 20, 2021
Start:14:30
Supervisors:dr. R.J. (Roel) Bosker, Prof., prof. dr. M.P.C. (Greetje) van der Werf
Co-supervisors:dr. R. Maslowski, dr. A.C. (Anneke) Timmermans
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Fostering active citizenship in young adulthood

In his research, Slijkhuis investigated to what extent citizenship competences of 14-year-olds predict their participation in society and politics as 21-year-old young adults. Dutch adolescents learn about the constitution and practice democracy in secondary education. This so-called citizenship education aims to equip adolescents with competences that enable them to participate actively in society and politics as adults.

Young adults participate in politics in different ways than adults. To measure the political participation of young adults (18 to 24 years) a new instrument has been developed. In addition to conventional political activities such as working in a political party, unconventional and online forms of political participation are included, such as participating in a protest march, online conversations on discussion forums, sharing political videos or supporting political action groups via Facebook.

Slijkhuis’ research reveals the complexity of predicting the political and civic participation of young adults. While cross-sectional research or panel studies with a short time frame points to a variety of factors that positively contribute to active participation in society, this longitudinal research shows no relationship between political and civic attitudes, academic achievement or political discussions of 14-year-olds and their participation in the society later in life.

The research does indicate that citizenship knowledge of 14-year-olds predicts political participation at the age of 21. Knowledge about democracy and political institutions enables young adults to participate in various political activities. This finding implies that schools can indirectly contribute to the active participation of citizens in politics through the transfer of citizenship knowledge. This result thus support the intention to strengthen citizenship education in the core curriculum of primary and secondary education.