"Employment status, social capital, and political participation: A comparison of unemployed and employed youth in Geneva"
by Lorenzini, Jasmine; Giugni, Marco (2012)
This paper examines the relationships between employment status, social capital, and the participation of young people in different kinds of political activities such as contacting, consumer, and protest activities. We focus on the role of social capital for political participation, addressing three related questions: Do unemployed and employed youth display different levels of social capital and political participation? Does social capital favor the political participation of unemployed and employed youth? Is social capital more important for unemployed youth than for employed youth? To address these questions we compare long-term unemployed youth to regularly employed youth using original survey data. Our analysis suggests that the employment status has only a limited impact on political participation, affecting only consumer actions. In contrast, the social capital resulting from associational involvement is positively correlated to political participation. However, rather than countering the effect of exclusion from the labor market, it plays a similar role for unemployed youth and employed youth.
Do unemployed and employed youth display different levels of social capital and political participation? Does social capital favors the political participation of unemployed and employed youth? Is social capital more important for unemployed youth than for employed youth? Perhaps quite surprisingly, especially in the light of works that have stressed the obstacles faced by unemployed to engage politically (Bagguley 1991, 1992; Chabanet 2008; Chabanet and Faniel 2011; Faniel 2004; Royall 1997), we found, to begin with, that the employment status does not have a strong impact on the political participation of youth. More specifically, long-term unemployed youth in Switzerland are no less engaged than employed youth in two quite different forms of participation such as contacting and protest activities. The only difference between the two groups concerns consumer activities, the long-term unemployed youth being less likely to engage in this form of political participation. This effect remains statistically significant in the regression analysis when controlling for indicators of social capital, subjective grievances, political attitudes, and sociodemographic characteristics. Similar findings were found for our three measures of social capital: unemployed youth are by no means less integrated than regularly employed youth, at least as far as associational membership is concerned. Some evidence of less frequent contacts with friends and acquaintances on the part of unemployed youth can be observed, but the difference with employed youth is not significant. In contrast, we see that unemployed youth are participating significantly less in social activities. (p.347)
KeywordsEmpirical Study, Social Capital, Unemployment, Youth Work, Young People, Exclusion
ThemesDemocracy and Work
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