Childism and the Future of Democracy

Tanu Biswas's picture

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Type: 
Symposium
Date: 
May 21, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Childhood and Education, Political Science, Social Sciences, Humanities, Government and Public Service

Transnational Childism Colloquium / Co-organized with the Department of Child Studies, Linköping University, Sweden

This colloquium seeks to explore some of the pressing challenges to democracy today and stimulate a discussion around how we can build a more child-responsive democracy for the future. Democracy has come under several kinds of pressing challenge and threat lately - including the emergence of populism and authoritarianism, crises of migration, climate, and the pandemic - challenges that have revealed democratic deficits and intergenerational power imbalances. Given these pressing challenges, the colloquium raises questions such as: How can we build a child-responsive democracy for the future that more fully includes children and youth as political citizens? Can the inclusion of children and youth in politics remedy democracy’s deficits? And, what are the challenges that future democratic reconstruction would need to consider and bridge to take children seriously in political life?

PROGRAM (all times in US Philadelphia time)

 

Conveners: Jonathan Josefsson, Sana Nakata, Bengt Sandin

8:00-8:10   Introduction (Bengt Sandin)

8:10-8:45   Panel 1: Children and democracy outside formal institutions - boundaries and interactions

Discussant: Sana Nakata

Participants:

Kei Nishiyama (statement)

Toby Rollo (statement)

Anna Holzscheiter (response)

8:45-9:00   Open discussion with audience – Moderator Kriste Lindenmeyer 

9:00-9:05   Break

9:05-9:40   Panel 2: Children and democratic institutions – limits, challenges and renewal

Discussant: Jonathan Josefsson 

Participants:

Irene Rizzini (statement)

John Wall (statement)

Bengt Sandin (response)

 

9:40-9:55   Open discussion with audience – Moderator Kriste Lindenmeyer

 

9:55-10:00   Conclusion and Wrap-Up: Sana Nakata

CONCEPT NOTE

Democracy has come under several kinds of pressing challenge and threat lately, from populism and authoritarianism to crises of migration, climate and most lately the pandemic. These challenges not only pose threats to the stability of democratic institutions, political cultures and citizens' access to justice and rights more generally, but more specifically they actualize critical impacts and long term consequences for the younger generation. In contemporary democracies, children do not have the right to vote, to participate in party politics, parliaments or holding public offices. In consequence, as children constitute at least a third of the global population, in some countries up to half the population, they are largely excluded from the key democratic institutions that make the decision that will affect this group for decades to come. There is an apparent democratic deficit and intergenerational power imbalance between those invested with full political citizenship and children and youth excluded from it. The political misrecognition and discontent with the situation has evoked children and youth to take to the streets and social media to mobilize in domestic and global politics on issues such as gun violence, climate change, migration, racism, etc. They claim rights of representation and democratic participation on new terms. Given these pressing challenges and the democratic deficit at hand, how can we build a child-responsive democracy for the future that more fully includes children and youth as political citizens? Can the inclusion of children and youth in politics remedy democracy’s weaknesses? And what are the challenges that future democratic reconstruction would need to consider and bridge to take children seriously in political life?

Contact Info: 

John Wall, Director, Childism Institute

Tanu Biswas, Advisory Board Member, Childism Institute