Not that young people are forming their views in isolation. Nearly all (88%) had talked with someone else about the referendum – though to whom they have talked varies a lot. While some have talked to parents, others have discussed the issue with friends or classmates. Some have talked to all three! How their views are formed differs and means that we have to consider the perspectives of young people as complex.
Indeed young people seem hungry to learn more. No less than two-thirds said they wanted more information before making their final decision. It looks as though whichever side can get its message across more effectively might yet be able to win many a convert.
Moreover, there is little sign of apathy. Over two-thirds say they are ‘very’ or ‘rather likely’ to vote in the referendum; only 13% say that do not intend to vote in the referendum. Indeed far from being a disengaged generation nearly 60% say they are interested in politics ‘to some extent’ at least – as was evident in the interest that young people exhibited in our project when we asked a group of them to tell us how we might improve a draft version of our survey.
Uninterested? Certainly not. Following the lead of others? Not obviously so. Ill-informed; well at least young people seem to be aware of the importance of making an informed choice. And to help them do so, we will be developing politically neutral materials that can be used in classroom activities and will be meaningful to young people. But it looks as though there is plenty of work for the politicians and campaigns to do too.
More information and updates about the project can be found at http://www.aqmen.ac.uk/youngscotsurveyresults
About the author
Dr Jan Eichhorn is a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science. His research focuses on issues of political participation as well as subjective well-being.