The field of civic and political participation has been studied mostly from individual, psychological approaches rather than collective, relational perspectives. Here we address this gap through a political ethnography in the youth wing of a major Portuguese political party, conducted during the fervent months right before and after the Portuguese parliamentary elections of October 2015. Investigating the meaning-making of doing politics in real-life contexts, we assess the collective learning processes involved in political participation. This paper shows that youth wings can provide quality participation experiences. Indeed, collectively envisioning and constructing a more democratic society and working for the public good are guiding principles of the wing. Debatement politics and pedagogical politics thus play a fundamental role in the wing's activity, even if they are accompanied by the more mundane, festive party politics and the backstage politics. Through their activity, the wing's members acquire and display high levels of political efficacy, critical thinking and effort regulation regarding political involvement. Methodologically, this paper shows that ethnography is well equipped to study the experience of participation, foregrounding activities and perceptions of wing's members in order to make sense of their learning processes and outcomes.
Civic and Political Participation, Youth Wings, Political Ethnography, Learning
The authors wish to thank Gianpaolo Baiocchi (Urban Democracy Lab - New York University) and Javier Auyero (University of Texas - Austin) for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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Recommended APA Citation
Malafaia, C., Menezes, I., & Neves, T. (2018). Living, Doing, and Learning from Politics in a Youth Wing of a Political Party. The Qualitative Report, 23(1), 49-79. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol23/iss1/5