YPP Network Description

The MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics (YPP) formed out of recognition that youth are critical to the future of democracy and that the digital age is introducing technological changes that are impacting how youth develop into informed, engaged, and effective actors.

Youth Participatory Politics Survey Project
  • Project Description

    The Youth Participatory Politics Survey Project (YPPSP) collected multiple waves of survey data from nationally representative samples of young people in the United States. The survey project was led by Principal Investigators Cathy Cohen  (University of Chicago) and Joseph Kahne (University of California, Riverside). The project surveys included questions that examined the quantity, quality and equality of youth new media practices, political and civic attitudes and behavior and engagement in what the project came to define as “participatory politics.” These data provided researchers with a unique opportunity to investigate how youth from a variety of backgrounds participate in and experience public life, online and off.


    The first wave of data collection took place in early 2011 and included 2,920 respondents ages 15-25. The second wave took place in 2013 and was completed by 2,343 respondents between the ages of 15 and 27. The third wave of the survey was administered in 2015 to a sample of 2,772 respondents between the ages of 15 and 29. All three waves of data collection have included oversamples of African American and Latino respondents in order to facilitate analyses both within and between racial and ethnic groups. In addition, a portion of the respondents in the second and third waves also participated in the previous waves of the survey, allowing the team to assess how these young people’s attitudes and behaviors have developed over time.


    Wave 1 survey data described the quantity, quality and equality of youth engagement in participatory politics. They indicated that participatory politics were an important dimension of youth political engagement and that engagement was equitably distributed across different racial and ethnic groups. Our findings indicated that in 2011 40% of youth had engaged in at least one act of participatory politics. In addition, young people of color in general were actively engaged with new media. The project's report of findings, “Participatory Politics: New Media and Youth Political Action” (available here), describes the findings from the Wave 1 survey in full.


    The Wave 2 and Wave 3 surveys have updated these findings and provide additional detail about young people’s involvement in online communities and their educational experiences. YPPSP researchers also used the panel data from these waves to gain a deeper understanding of how young people from different racial, ethnic, and social economic groups engaged in participatory politics, the pathways into participatory politics, and different aspects associated with the quality of engagement in participatory politics. The datasets are available for download here.


    For more information on the YPP Survey Project data set, variables, and publications please follow this link: https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/civicleads/series/768