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Youthquake 2017

The Rise of Young Cosmopolitans in Britain

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  • Open Access
  • © 2019

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  • Provides a timely and topical study into young people in the 2017 General Election in the UK.
  • Fills a gap in the literature on youth political participation with regards to electoral politics, as opposed to a large amount on youth protest movements.
  • Examines differences in electoral participation amongst Young Millennials, rather than treating them as one homogenous group.

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Young People and Politics (PSYPP)

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About this book

This book is open access under a CC BY 4.0 license.

This book investigates the reasons behind the 2017 youthquake – which saw the highest rate of youth turnout in a quarter of a century, and an unprecedented gap in youth support for Labour over the Conservative Party – from both a comparative and a theoretical perspective. It compares youth turnout and party allegiance over time and traces changes in youth political participation in the UK since the onset of the 2008 global financial crisis – from austerity, to the 2016 EU referendum, to the rise of Corbyn – up until the June 2017 General Election. The book identifies the rise of cosmopolitan values and left-leaning attitudes amongst Young Millennials, particularly students and young women. The situation in the UK is also contrasted with developments in youth participation in other established democracies, including the youthquakes inspired by Obama in the US (2008) and Trudeau in Canada (2015).

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Table of contents (6 chapters)


“Sloam and Henn present a very interesting argument and provide a clear empirical case for the youthquake during the 2017 General Election in the UK. … Young British people tend to be interested in national politics and to have a sense of cosmopolitan belonging. To remind readers of that on an empirical basis is welcome and promising. Sloam and Henn succeed at providing an empirically rich and informed study … .” (Simon Pistor, Intergenerational Justice Review, Vol. 5 (1), 2019)

“Matt Henn and James Sloam’s new book is compulsory reading for anyone interested in understanding the many arguments about young people’s political participation in the UK. They make a well–evidenced case buttressed by important theoretical insights that Britain indeed experienced a ‘youthquake’ in 2016 the year of Brexit.  Henn and Sloam emphasise the role of ‘the young left’ and ‘cosmopolitan values’ responding to economic adversity and unprecedented levels of credentialism and how that connects to political emotions like resentment and a sense of betrayal.” (Judith Bessant, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

"This book is optimistic about young people and their role in politics. But is also considered and careful in its judgements and keen to show that not all young people are the same. If you want to understand the complex story of how politics is changing this book provides a valuable set of clues" (Gerry Stoker, University of Canberra, Australia, and University of Southampton, UK)

“The convincing combination of strong theoretical grounding, new datasets and an international comparative sweep allow Henn and Sloam to provide insightful analysis of the emerging phenomenon of the ‘young cosmopolitan left’ in the 21st century. Set within the context of the ‘youthquake,’ the book reveals important contemporary changes to young people’s political participation.” (Sarah Pickard, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, France)

“This timely volume by two of our most influential academics researching issues of youth citizenship … should be read by all those concerned about the future of our democracy.” (Andy Mycock, University of Huddersfield, UK) 

“This timely and superbly researched consideration of the 2017 ‘youthquake’ election analyses how young people define politics and assesses how they perceive our political parties … Written by two leading experts on young people and politics, Youthquake 2017 is essential reading.” (Jon Tonge, University of Liverpool, UK)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, UK

    James Sloam

  • School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

    Matt Henn

About the authors

James Sloam is Reader in Politics at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. He is co-convenor of the UK Political Studies Association (PSA) specialist group on young people’s politics. His work focuses on youth politics in Europe and the United States, inequalities in political participation, and the role of education in democratic engagement.

Matt Henn is Professor of Social Research at Nottingham Trent University, UK. He is the Research Coordinator for Politics and International Relations and Coordinator of Postgraduate Research in the School of Social Sciences. He has published widely on the subject of young people and politics over the last two decades.

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