The mass movements of 2011 saw the crumbling of “politics as usual” and the emergence of a new youth political generation, marked by new discourses of justice, equality, and citizenship, alternative practices of political participation and civic engagement, and distinct ideas and understandings of how meaningful change can and should occur. Despite setbacks, this political generation has not disappeared; rather, it has manifested itself in myriad instances of collective action, all of which continue to strive for radical change and transformed relationships between citizens and vis-à-vis the State. We firmly believe that this youth must be supported and equipped with a variety of tools and opportunities to shape the collective conscience and see their agendas transformed into measurable and sustained changes.
Through our research and action programs, ARI work to empower youth activists through strengthening their modes of engagement and creating opportunities for direct political participation, so that their vision will have a greater ability to achieve change. Likewise, by building knowledge on good and contextually-meaningful pathways for youth in politics, we contribute to better designed policies and programming that contribute to effective political participation by youth.
The program Youth as Political Actors includes four streams of work:
Research into youth political and civic engagement in the post-2011 and a reconceptualization of what constitutes “youth politics.” This includes research into how youth are currently entering the formal political sphere, including the vectors of participation and the impact of inclusion, and how they are trying to carve out political participation for themselves outside of the traditional political sector, including the variety of forms of social movements, mobilization, and activism.
Research into youth political socialization and democratic learning. This includes evaluating their values, behaviors, grievances, priorities, and visions for the reconstruction of their polities and societies, and working alongside youth and key stakeholders to ensure that these are addressed in political processes.
Research into international and national policy frameworks that seek to incorporate youth in decision-making through top-down vectors, and the opportunities and challenges these pose. This includes UNSCR 2250 “Youth, Peace, and Security” paradigm as well as youth quota schemes and other constituted bodies. The research critically assesses the effectiveness of these frameworks in order to provide recommendations for more meaningful youth inclusion that avoids cooptation and youth-washing.
Engaged scholarship and mentorship of emerging scholars to accompany them into the policy space. This includes deploying a variety of Action-Research methodologies designed for the purpose of achieving social and political change, providing avenues for youth to contribute to policy discussions and the public debate, and assisting youth in advocating for their own policy priorities.