Political participation among deaf youth in Great Britain

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Variations in political participation are linked to demographic factors, socioeconomic disparities, and cultural-ethnic diversity. Existing research has primarily explored reduced political involvement among individuals with disabilities, particularly in electoral politics. However, little research has attended the involvement of deaf people specifically. This is of interest because deaf youth are at an intersection of disability, language and cultural identity with their language affiliations and rejection or acceptance of disability evolving through childhood. This study draws from original data collected via an online survey, comprising 163 deaf young respondents aged 16-19 in Great Britain. We compare their levels of political participation with those of general population peers to explore how sociodemographic factors, alongside variations in self-identification as deaf, and meaningful interactions with other deaf people contribute to explain their political engagement. The results challenge conventional wisdom by demonstrating that deaf youth participate more actively in politics than their hearing peers in various forms of political involvement, including collective, contact, and institutional activism. We also recognize differences among deaf youth and propose that social aspects of identity formation, particularly embracing a deaf identity and having deaf friends, can boost certain forms of political engagement. In summary, this study underscores the importance of acknowledging the diversity of deaf youth in terms of affiliation with various forms of deaf identity, rendering their experience different from both disabled and hearing youth. By identifying the factors driving heightened political participation, policymakers and advocates can develop strategies to enhance political engagement among all young people, regardless of their hearing status.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2024


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