17 Sep

Not in the Same World: Topological Youths, Topographical Policies

Preview was written by: Kirsi Pauliina Kallio

Q: What is the main purpose of your study?
A: In my research, I am focusing on the political dimensions of people’s everyday lives. In particular, I am tracing how political life is experienced by people, including importantly matters that are not always thought about as political – not publically or by the people themselves. As political, I consider matters and events that appear particularly important to people in their mundane living environments and activities. These may be worldly or personal issues, and anything in between. The approach reveals that politics is very contextual and geographically variable, and thus cannot be analyzed or understood in general; empirical analysis and knowledge is always required. In this article, I focus on the experiences of Finnish early youth, with reference to youth inclusion in democratic societies.

Q: What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study?
A: Understanding that politics is not a general matter but varies plentifully, depending on how people are positioned in their societies and communities, and what matters are of particular concern and interest to each person, provides a fruitful starting point for strengthening democracy. When people’s political agencies are supported in their experiences political realities, they are more inclined to become active members of their communities and societies. Thus, individual persons and groups should be invited to participate in the society based on their experiences, and not on a general basis. In this way, people of different age, ethnicity, race, and gender, with variable socio-economic positions and backgrounds, can join in democratic life as valued and equal members of the society.

Q: How does your study relate to other work on the subject?
A: My work expands on the understanding of children and young people as active members of political communities and societies, as well as on the conception of citizenship as a lived practice in liberal democracies.

Q: What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study?
A: 1) Young people are involved in mundane political life as active persons who care for the matters that appear as important to them, in their lived realities.

2) Youth inclusion does not identify young people’s lived political realities adequately, largely because it is strongly territorially based.
3) Issue-based experienced politics provide starting points for involving people in political life as active citizens and community members.

Q: What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study?
A: 1) Topological theorization provides fruitful starting points for studying political realities as experienced and practiced by people.
2) Topological-topographical analysis helps to bridge people’s experienced political realities and the systemic political worlds of public administration.
3) ’Issue publics’ and ‘political connectives’ offer productive conceptual openings to political geographical research.

Q: How does your research help us think about Geography?
A: My research draws attention to that politics is very contextual and geographically variable, and thus cannot be analyzed or understood in general; empirical analysis and knowledge is always required in political analysis. Moreover, political life does not belong to certain people or areas of life, but is present in all people’s lived realities, including children and young people who may articulate politics differently from adults but nevertheless live in political worlds where they learn to think and act little by little, as part of their everyday activities.

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Click here to read the abstract of this article on the Wiley Online Library.