'I mainly look at things on an issue by issue basis': Reflexivity and phronêsis in young people's political engagements

Nathan Manning*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young people have been characterised as apathetic and disengaged from politics. The discourse of youth apathy has widespread currency in the academy, governments and media. This understanding of young people's relationship with politics assumes a particular, narrow and hegemonic notion of politics originating during the Scottish Enlightenment and relies upon a public/private divide. This definition of politics is used to measure the participation and knowledge of young people and finds them wanting. In contrast, the young people of the present study practice politics in a range of ways drawing upon the permeability of public/ private spheres. Moreover, their political practice relies upon reflexivity and phronêsis in a form of ethico-political engagement which politicises morality and everyday life. This study argues that the narrow hegemonic definition of politics is outdated and does not reflect contemporary social conditions and the political repertoire available in late modernity. Nevertheless, there are limitations to ethico-political practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-33
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Issue number1
Early online date18 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2013


  • Politics
  • Reflexivity
  • Young people

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