Political and Civic Engagement Study


Anxieties regarding low levels of youth political participation (YPP) and the future of our democracy have propelled the efforts of researchers, policy makers and politicians for nearly two decades.  Despite the resurgence of interest and efforts, lags in participation among young people persist.  This study argues for and aims to contribute a cross-scalar, and deeply contextualized understanding of the negotiations young people engage in around political participation (whether to at all, and through what channels) to the existing literature.    Through thirty-three virtually collected political narratives from students at a public university in New York City, this study investigates the reasons and rationales that young people provide to explain their political behavior.  Using the analytic framework, critical bifocality (Weis and Fine 2012), this study examines these negotiations in relation to the disposition and policy directives of the political and larger political economic systems and the political and socio-material conditions they engender (i.e. educational costs, underemployment).   In doing so, the gaze of critique usually directed towards and enacted on young people themselves, becomes inverted, illuminating the political and socio-material avenues through which the deeper ideological layers of our political system and political economy operate in the political dispositions of these young adults.  Given their representativeness of projection population growth trends in the United States, and their status as college students, and the assertion that the university is an important institution in the incorporation of young people into our political system (Flanagan, and colleagues, 2012), it is suggested that these voices are particularly important.

This project is an independent study and serves as the basis of my MA Thesis.

Papers In Progress:
Past Presentations:

View a recent version of my presentation on this work via Slideshare.

  • Hackett, K. (August, 2015). Inverting the Gaze and Reframing Youth Political Participation. Presentation for panel entitled (De)constructing Young People’s Political Participation: A Critical Bifocal Approach with C. Trott, J. Fernandez, and J. Tang at the American Psychological Association annual meeting, Toronto, Canada.
  • Hackett, K. (March, 2015). A relational perspective of youth political participation. Presented at the Journal for Youth Studies annual meeting, Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Hackett, K. (November 2014).  Paying heed to the role of systemic power in one’s analysis: A case study of youth political participation. Presentation for panel entitled Speaking of/to Power: Narratives and Power in the Spectrum of Field Research with S. Buchbinder, B. Dubois, H. Jaicks, & R. Wilson at Temple Critical Geography Conference, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Hackett, K. (2014, June). Contextualized considerations on the political subjectivity of young adults. Paper to be presented at the Biennial Meeting of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, Portland, OR.