University of Sussex
Hewitt, Jenny Caroline.pdf (3.58 MB)

Exploring young people’s socio-politics in everyday life

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posted on 2023-06-10, 04:35 authored by Jenny Caroline Hewitt
This thesis examines how eight young people living in a City in the South East of England, constructed their socio-politics in relation to their everyday lives, practices and relationships. The fieldwork was conducted during a period (beginning end of 2017) when divisive political discourses had been freshly stoked by the EU Referendum, and wider media raised questions about the meaning of politics for young people. Against this backdrop, the study sought to move beyond binarizing questions of political engagement, to build a more nuanced understanding of meaningful spaces for young people to practice socio-political skills and agency in their everyday lives. Examined in relation to the theories of Nancy Fraser and Michel de Certeau, the thesis highlights a need for greater understanding of the complexity of everyday lives, and where socio-politics is experienced in young people’s everyday lives. The study responds to calls for rigorous research design to identify what determines socio-political formation and thinking for young people. Methodologically, the study centres the interview method, using semi-structured interviews alongside visual, participatory approaches to create space for the participants to foreground their perspectives, voices and experiences. The methods were designed to enable participants to take the lead in presenting what social issues took precedence for them, how they make connections between their micro and macro worlds, and how they may experience marginalisation. The analysis shows that young people make socio-political connections and convictions in response to the power relations and structural divisions they encounter. Specifically, the study illuminates how young people’s socio-politics are shaped by their interpersonal relationships, their institutional experiences, and their digital interactions. The analytic approach aimed to recognise the ways in which participants lives are contextually situated, but also dynamic. The thesis argues the following: Intimate relationships of care were centralised, and informed the participants socio-politics. Participants relied on support within their networks to balance the inter- connections between their micro and macro worlds, particularly when facing isolation and aggression within institutional spaces. Marginalisation within institutional spaces was amplified by intersectional factors, which deepened the participants’ sense of socio-political injustice. The participants tactically sublimated their online identities, in reaction to threats of invasion of privacy and surveillance on digital social media. These refractions of identity were socio-politically motivated, in reaction to experiences of digital exclusion and perceived manipulation. Care is a key factor in young people’s mediation of their everyday lives, and their socio-political interpretation of their experiences. Presenting these findings in combination demonstrates the multitudinous tactical practices inherent in their daily socio-politics.


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