Online and offline political participation and attitudes among Belgian young adults

(14-07-2021) To understand young citizens’ political behaviour and attitudes, imec-mict-UGent conducted a study asking Belgians between 18 and 30 years old about their engagement in online and offline activism.

With this study, we wanted to map how young Belgian citizens are engaging in different participatory acts, such as protesting, attending city councils or posting about a political issue on social media. Furthermore, we wanted to know how they think about politics and the role of social media in it. An online survey was conducted among 720 young Belgians. The results indicate how youth are engaging in variety of participation types, both offline and online. Clearly, social media provide an important means for political action and in general, youth hold positive attitudes towards social media as a political tool. The study also found how a majority of the respondents felt that they were capable of participating in politics. However, social risk groups (such as citizens in lower income families) overall feel less capable of participating in politics. Additionally, our results highlight how youth hold a particular view towards citizenship that is highly individual and flexible. While the respondents felt that everyone has a role to play in society, everyone should be free to choose how and when they do so. Social media fit this notion of citizenship, as they allow for short-term, ad-hoc types of political participation focused on specific issues such as climate, #MeToo or Black Lives Matter.

Download the full report here (Dutch)

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