Pathways to Global Politics: Children, youth and the making of global civil society 1920–1992

Young people protesting 1975-1980
Gösta Glase (via Nordiska museet)

This research project explores the historical participation of children and youth in global issues and their path into world politics between 1920 and 1992, with a focus on Swedish civil society. The aim is to highlight the significance of historical development for youth engagement in today's global politics.

In recent years, we have witnessed political mass mobilization by young people across the world on issues such as climate change, migration, peace and security. Scholars taking interest in this development have sometimes described this process as unique in its visibility and scope. However, a historical perspective may provide a more detailed understanding of the processes of continuity and change that have shaped the pathways for young people to address global political issues and the relationship between domestic mobilization and the formation of global civil society.

Using Sweden as a point of departure, this three-year project will investigate the emergence of international arenas for children and youth to address such issues. By exploring how young people historically have used their own competences and developed strategies to influence the world around them, the project reconsiders the participation of young people in global governance and brings new perspectives to the study of children and youth in international relations.

Methodologically, the project investigates the contributions of children and youth on three distinct levels: domestic campaigns addressing international issues like poverty, peace and environment, the formation of international networks among NGOs to address such issues and, finally, the role and representation of children and youth on the international arena, in the United Nations and other international organisations.