ACSPRI Conferences, ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2014

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Studying young people's political agency: The promise and pitfalls of mixed method research

Sylvia Nissen

Building: Holme Building
Room: Holme Room
Date: 2014-12-10 09:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Last modified: 2014-11-26


This paper examines the promise and pitfalls of mixed method research for studying young people's political agency - their capacity to imagine and effect desired change. The era in which young people have come to be predominately understood as a materialistic 'Gen Me' or as an apathetic 'lost' generation has also witnessed the rise of urban unrest and protest in many established democracies, suggesting a real need to rethink our existing assumptions about and approaches for studying the political agency of young citizens (Moran 2014; Fine 2014). This paper examines potential and challenges for mixed method approaches to re-engage critical discussion of the complexities youth agency beyond romantic idealisations or frustrations. The paper draws on reflections from my practical experiences with mixed method approaches as part of my doctoral research on New Zealand tertiary student's political agency, as well as a review of interdisciplinary debates of what the Occupy movement means for social science research about young citizens.

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