Democratic formation and informal youth networks


 Traditionally, the Associative Democracy has been ascribed an importance as an arena which enhances democratic formation of participants and thereby strengthens social cohesion of society. However youth engagement in Associative Democracy in Denmark is declining, while engagement in informal networks is increasing. This study aims to provide knowledge about whether this trend might be embraced without concern for social cohesion in our society, and - if not - how we may support these networks in developing democratically to contribute to such cohesion.  


The project explores democratic formation perceived both as civic engagement in democratic processes (vertical citizenship) and as democratic sentiment (horizontal citizenship). It also looks into inclusion and exclusion dynamics, aiming to learn more about the potential for including groups that are underrepresented in Associative Democracy in Denmark. 

These processes are examined in the context of informal networks characterized by a more flexible, non-hierarchical organization as opposed to a formally elected board of directors, obligatory general meetings, ect. which characterizes organizing in Associative Democracy. The aim is to explore how democratic formation processes and inclusion/exclusion dynamics are influenced by certain features of these networks, namely the temporal structures in terms of durability of engagement and frequency of interaction, the absence of entry requirements like membership fees or levels of competency and the use of social media as organizing infrastructure.

This is approached from a process perspective on organization, which understands organizational phenomena as constantly evolving, thus working through thick descriptions of how different elements interplay in these processes. This is carried out in a multiple-case-design of informal networks that comprise both online and offline interactions.

The project is carried out by Cristine Dyhrberg Højgaard




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