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Political Socialization and the Future of Politics

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It is clear that generational replacement is one of the main driving forces for social and political change in liberal democracies. While there is considerable consensus about the observation that the political attitudes and behaviors of young people differ significantly from those of earlier cohorts, there is disagreement about how this observation should be interpreted. Some authors worry about the decline of participation and trust among young people; others herald their tolerance and critical attitudes. In this introduction, it is argued that, because of this generational replacement mechanism, youth studies offer us a glimpse of the future evolution of western political systems. If the differences that are currently being observed persist into later parts of the life cycle, this implies that political systems will have to find a way to adapt to a more critical and distant citizenry.Acta Politica (2004) 39, 331–341. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ap.5500082

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: aDepartment Politieke Wetenschappen, University of Leuven, E. van Evenstraat 2B, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium., Email:

Publication date: December 1, 2004


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