Exploring New Citizenship Practices: The Meaning of Young Activists’ Political Engagement in the Basque Country
Iraola Arretxe, Iker
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Made-to-Measure Future(s) for Democracy : 217-239 (2022)
The article analyses the meaning of innovative activist practices carried out by politicised young people in the Basque Country while considering the lines of continuity and rupture of said practices with respect to the political tradition in which these young people were socialised. To this end, we have referred to the results of qualitative research carried out with the aid of in-depth interviews during 2018. The analysis demonstrates that young activists are gradually moving away from intermediation by institutionalised political actors who have, so far, led political opposition in the Basque Country and proposes new, less formal, ways of relating to politics. More specifically, they are shifting political participation to areas of daily life, thus broadening the meaning of politics and redesigning the limits of the political arena. Their practices are understood as acts carried out by activist citizens who transform diverse social spaces into citizenship building sites. The transformation of young participants into activist citizens is underpinned by the existence of a particular structure for political opportunity in the Basque political field: a long-standing culture of community politics, characterised by counter-hegemonic activism and linked to nation building projects, in which they are socialised at an early age. Nonetheless, the new generations of activists tailor the acquired dispositions in this politicised context to the current conditions of individualisation and distancing from institutions, typical of the second modernity.