Doubly disillusioned? Young Muslims and mainstream British politics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


If participation in mainstream politics is taken as a hallmark of engagement with the democratic process, then evidence shows an increasing disenchantment with democracy in the UK. Indeed, the path of mainstream politics is one less travelled not only by the British people; it’sa trend prevalent in mature democracies across the world. Increasingly, people are not voting, joining political parties or volunteering their help at election campaigns as ‘foot soldiers’. Disillusionment is more pronounced among certain groups, including young people. Muslim young people, like their counterparts in wider society, are sceptical about the effectiveness of mainstream politics and politicians. But, unlike their non-Muslim contemporaries, many young Muslims live in constituencies where the practice of biraderi, or kinship-based politics, is a feature of political life. The hierarchical and patriarchal structure of kin-based politics results in the effective disenfranchisement of young people and women. In turn, this creates a second layer of disillusionment for politically interested British Muslims. While the focus of this chapter is on the ways in which young British Muslims are disenfranchised from electoral politics, elsewhere I have shown how young Muslims are seeking out alternative forms of political engagement as an antidote to electoral exclusion (Akhtar, 2013). O’Toole, too, in this volume, shows some of the ways in which minority (including Muslim) young people are active in extra-parliamentary forms of political participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPolitical (dis) engagement: The Changing Nature of the'political'
EditorsNathan Manning
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


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