Library Dissertation Showcase

Did Jeremy Corbyn’s personalised leadership really increase youth political engagement in the 2017 General Election? An exploration of the impact of Corbyn’s leadership on youth participation

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

In recent decades, it has been found that young people’s political engagement in the UK has continued to decline. This has largely been signified by their low turnout rates at general elections. Accordingly, young people are characterised as being politically disengaged. However, in the 2017 General Election, there appeared to be a significant increase in young people’s political engagement, and their turnout rate was remarkably higher than previous years. This was also the first general election where Corbyn was the Leader of the Labour Party, after his victory in the 2015 Labour leadership contest. Consequently, a narrative emerged that young people’s increased political engagement and participation was as a result of Corbyn’s leadership. Therefore, this study aimed to explore the extent to which specific factors of Corbyn’s leadership may have impacted young people’s political engagement in the 2017 GE. Theoretical concepts, namely, the personalisation of politics and the mobilisation through hope, were applied to this exploration. This was a desk-based study, meaning that secondary analysis of relevant sources was undertaken. A range of qualitative and quantitative sources were used. From this analysis, it was revealed that Corbyn’s personal traits and policies, as well as social media strategies used in the campaign, appeared to influence young people’s political engagement and participation. Specifically, an interaction between these factors was significant in Corbyn’s impact on young people’s political behaviour. Therefore, this study concluded that Corbyn’s leadership did influence the increase in youth political engagement in the 2017 GE. Limitations of this study and future directions for this topic are also discussed.

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