After reading Tom Dusevic’s article in The Australian today on trying to win the ‘youth vote’ in the 2013 election, I thought I would suggest people read Lucy Robinson’s article on the British Labour Party trying to engage with young people in the 1980s as a historical comparison with the present. In the UK (and also in the United States), the major political parties have to work hard to mobilise young people to vote, due to non-compulsory voting in those countries. The view that young people are disinterested in politics stems from the apparent low turnout rate amongst people aged 18 to 24 (see this paper by Jonathan Louth and Lisa Hill for further info on this). Because we have compulsory voting in Australia, the question is not so much about mobilisation (although apparently there is a significant number of young people who are not enrolled to vote), but about which party the youth will vote for. According to Dusevic, young people are more likely to vote Labor or Greens, but may also be swayed by the Liberals’ appeal to Aussie patriotism. I think Robinson’s article is a very good story of how the mainstream parties struggle to engage with ‘the yoof’.
Of course, electoral politics is not the only way that young people get involved with politics. Ariadne Vromen at the University of Sydney has written extensively on the interaction between young people in Australian and political activism, and she has conducted some very exciting research on Get Up!
Also, I thought I’d plug my own papers on mixing youth culture and politics, albeit with more of a focus on the British left. My paper on the Communist Party and Rock Against Racism can be found here and my paper on the CPGB and youth culture in the 1980s can be found here.