There can be little doubt that the institutions and practices of modern representative government have been subject to growing disillusionment from young citizens. A reluctance to vote at elections, join political parties or have a high regard for their politicians, all suggest that many young people are turning away from formal politics in many countries. Instead, engagement in alternative or new forms of political participation point to the possible displacement of traditional models of representative democracy as the dominant cultural form of engagement, by approaches increasingly characterized through networking practices.
The political identity and attitudes of young citizens are increasingly shaped by the social networks they themselves have had a significant part in constructing, and are underpinned by digital and networked communication technologies. Rather than disaffection, The Civic Network project has found that many young people are politically engaged on social media platforms, particularly Facebook. However, we also caution against generalising to all young people. Significant barriers to engagement remain that have more to do with the structure, openness and appeal of broader political systems and processes.