Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Critical youth in uncertain times: Trust, attitudes to democracy and engagement in independent Ukraine

Fri31  Mar12:45pm(15 mins)
McIntyre Room 201


Cressida Arkwright1
1 University of Manchester, UK


Trust between citizens and authorities is regarded as central to democratic governance, and the connection between trust and political behaviour is a point of theoretical intrigue. The competing perspectives of ‘political culture’ and ‘critical citizens’ offer compelling insight, yet are derived from long-standing democracies, and implicitly align trust with pro-democratic attitudes. In democratising contexts, such as Ukraine, the optimism of transition met with political and economic upheaval, and security threats, and political trust has tended to be low. How have low levels of trust in political structures shaped young Ukrainian’s democratic attitudes and political engagement (or abstention)? Using data from the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, this paper investigates the relationship between democratic attitudes, political trust, and participation in elections and protest. It finds that, while traits of ‘political culture’ and ‘critical citizens’ pattern onto the population overall, for young people in contemporary Ukraine, political trust combines differently with democratic and authoritarian attitudes to explain behaviour. Further, using discourse analysis of interview and focus group discussions from the MOBILISE Project, it explores how young people, coming of age in the context of Euromaidan and hybrid war, understand and construct discourses around democracy, trust, political participation.