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Worldwide youth satisfaction with democracy is declining. This is worrying because they are the democratic citizens of the future. How can we explain this decline? In a new and unique research project social scientists, psychologists and neuroscientists will jointly study how brain development and socialisation of Generation Alpha shape their processing of political information. The project, called IP-PAD, is funded as a Marie Curie Doctoral Network by Horizon Europe.
(photo: Shutterstock)

De betrokkenheid van jongeren bij de politiek is altijd cruciaal geweest voor de toekomst van de democratie. De adolescenten van vandaag zijn immers de stemgerechtigde burgers van morgen. Maar zowel wereldwijd als in Europa neemt de tevredenheid van jongeren over de democratie af. Deze groeiende ontevredenheid kan jongeren aanzetten tot apathie en zich afwenden van democratische processen of tot geradicaliseerde attitudes, populisme, identificatie met marginale groepen en betrokkenheid bij desinformatie.

Beide scenario's geven aanleiding tot bezorgdheid over de toekomst van liberale democratieën in Europa. Om beter te begrijpen hoe Generation Alfa (geboren na 2010) politieke informatie verwerkt, zal IP-PAD (Interdisciplinaire perspectieven op de politiek van adolescentie en democratie) hun ontwikkelende politieke brein en gedrag bestuderen.

Bringing together insights and perspectives from various disciplines

IP-PAD will address the timely and pressing societal issue of youth dissatisfaction with democracy by bringing together insights and perspectives from various disciplines. ‘This will be the first time that communication science and political science are used in conjunction with psychology, and developmental and affective neuroscience,’ tells project coordinator and communication researcher Bert Bakker.

‘This is an important time for social scientists to study a group that we have often overlooked: people who are too young to vote’, adds Gijs Schumacher, co-researcher and associate professor in the department of Political Science. ‘At the same time neuroscientists and psychologists will learn more about the development of political attitudes and behaviours among young people.’

Recruiting PhD Students

Twelve PhD students will be recruited by the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), University of Vienna (Austria), Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences (Greece), Jagiellonian University (Poland) and Royal Holloway, University of London (UK). These institutes will conduct their research and training in collaboration with the European Youth Parliament, the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, Gallup International and Counterpoint Global.


For more information, please contact:

Dr. B.N. (Bert) Bakker

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

CW : Political Communication & Journalism

Dr. G. (Gijs) Schumacher

Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Programme group: Challenges to Democratic Representation