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The Internet Generation

Engaged Citizens or Political Dropouts

Henry Milner

Publication Year: 2010

An investigation of political disengagement among young people in North America and Europe Despite rising levels of education and mounting calls for increased democratic participation, recent years have seen a significant decline in voter turnout in many countries and the erosion of the sense of civic duty that brought earlier generations to the polls. Henry Milner looks at the United States, Canada, Britain, Scandinavia, and the European Union to probe the decline of youth voting and attentiveness to politics, drawing lessons from observations of institutions, which could break down the wall between political life and “real” life that underlies political abstention among the Internet generation. Finding civic education the key to instilling habits of attentiveness to public affairs, especially among potential political dropouts, Milner sets out a series of ways to bring the issues—and the political parties’ stance on them—to the classroom, including visits, simulations, and innovative use of media, old and new.

Published by: Tufts University Press

Series: Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives

Front Cover

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Title Page

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pp. vii-ix

This book returns to the subject of my last book with the University Press of New England: Civic Literacy: How Informed Citizens Make Democracy Work. In the eight years since it was . . .

Part 1: Citizens in the Making

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1: Why Political Dropouts Matter

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pp. 3-30

The last phrase in the subtitle of this book is provocative: the expression “political dropout” evokes the image of young people who have withdrawn not from the world of education but from the world of . . .

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2: Political Socialization, Social Class, and Technological Transformation

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pp. 31-52

In the previous chapter, we introduced an approach based on political knowledge to the question of youth political participation—an approach that targets potential political dropouts. In this chapter, we . . .

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3: The Revolution in Information Technology

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pp. 53-76

In the first chapter, we introduced a way to approach the question of youth political participation based on political knowledge. In this chapter, we look at changes over time in the information media, the . . .

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4: Political Participation

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pp. 77-96

It’s time to get to the numbers: just how many young people vote? We have established that nowadays, for the most part, they turn out to vote at lower levels than did their parents and grandparents when . . .

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5: The Political Knowledge of Emerging Generations

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pp. 97-113

Getting the Internet generation to participate politically entails, first and foremost, instilling in them the habit of paying attention to public affairs. Th e data presented in chapter 4 that show . . .

Part 2: Institutions

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6: Political Institutions

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pp. 117-138

In this part of the book, we look at political institutions and their effect on informed youth political participation. So far, we have stressed the factors that contribute to a politically knowledgeable citizenry, and . . .

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7: The Electoral System

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pp. 139-154

In part 2, we seek to identify institutional arrangements found in advanced democracies that manage to maintain relatively high levels of informed political participation among young citizens, despite the . . .

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8: Who Should Vote, and When?

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pp. 155-172

In this chapter we continue to examine election rules, focusing on those directly affecting first-time potential voters. Measures along the lines discussed in this chapter would complement the reforms . . .

Part 3: Educating Tomorrow's Citizens

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9: Civic Education outside the Classroom

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pp. 175-193

It is time to focus on the institution whose mission is to impart knowledge. Chapter 2 pointed out that recent developments have placed a mounting burden of political socialization on the public school. But . . .

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10: The Challenge of Civic Education in the Internet Age

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pp. 195-216

I have argued from the start that we face a serious challenge in the phenomenon of political dropouts, and that any eff ective response to that challenge must address the upcoming generations’ political . . .

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pp. 217-224

In the 1970s, the Swedish Social Democratic Party youth wing claimed over 80,000 members; in 2008, it had a paltry 2,000.1 That is an extraordinary drop. Although the party is still by far the largest in . . .


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pp. 225-226


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pp. 227-264


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pp. 265-285


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pp. 287-294

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781584659129
E-ISBN-10: 1584659122
Print-ISBN-13: 9781584658580
Print-ISBN-10: 1584658584

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 27 tables.
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Civil Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
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OCLC Number: 649914510
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Internet Generation

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political participation.
  • Young adults -- Political activity.
  • Youth -- Political activity.
  • Internet -- Political aspects.
  • Civics -- Study and teaching.
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