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The young protester: the impact of belongingness needs on political engagement

Journal article
Authors Emma Aurora Renström
J. Aspernas
H. Back
Published in Journal of Youth Studies
ISSN 1367-6261
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Keywords Protest activities, young citizens' participation, need to belong, peer-pressure, rejection sensitivity, collective action, social media, participation, identity, people, belong, consumerism, membership, decline, Social Sciences - Other Topics
Subject categories Psychology


As institutional forms of political engagement continue to decline, participation in protests steadily become more common. These trends are particularly strong among younger citizens. Previous research indicates that social factors can explain participation in political protests, and that younger citizens' participation in protests is more affected by social ties than older people's participation. Even though the desire for social affiliation is a fundamental human need, there are individual differences in the need for belongingness. The aim of the current study is to investigate if part of younger people's higher level of participation in protests can be explained by individual-level differences in belongingness needs. More specifically, the study investigates whether a larger part of younger people's participation is explained by need to belong (NTB), as compared to older people's participation. In line with the hypothesis, results from a survey study of a representative sample of the Swedish population (N = 2034), show that only younger people's participation is predicted by individual-level belongingness needs; the higher the NTB among young people, the higher the tendency to protest, while this effect is absent among older people. These results have important implications for our understanding of participation in protest activities and youth mobilization.

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