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Young People and E-Democracy: Creating a Culture of Participation

Abstract

Research originally suggested that new technologies, particularly the Internet, provided a useful mechanism for engaging young people - an otherwise largely disenfranchised group. Subsequent to the evaluation of a number of pioneering projects in this field it has become apparent that merely providing online tools is not sufficient to engage young people democratically. In order to begin to resolve some of the underlying issues a number of interviews with youth consultation coordinators in Scotland have been conducted and youth consultation best practice documents have been researched. This has resulted in the development of four high-level stages, which situate online youth dialogues in a much broader, supporting scheme. Evaluation research is planned through the development and field-testing of further youth consultations. Our work will continue to research ways of developing online youth consultation tools that are both used and useful. At present, as this paper details, it appears that the only way this will occur is if 'traditional' offline techniques are implemented to help alter a cultural view of young people in opposition to what it means to be a citizen.