While there is a wealth of literature on young people and politics, most studies have examined theirinterest, trust and participation in politics as well as their attitudes toward and knowledge about for-mal politics. Little is known, however, about young people and the concept of politics. This articleinvestigates 16-year-old students’ perceptions of the concept of politics and their conceptions of therelationship between people and politics. This knowledge is valuable for citizenship and social stud-ies education, as an increasingly polarised political climate poses challenges to democratic politicsand, consequently, to young people’s political engagement and participation. In this study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nine students at five Norwegian upper secondaryschools. The students varied in their interest and involvement in politics. A main finding is that thestudents perceived politics as processes related to shaping society, as decisions and activities relatedto ruling a country, and as the activities of discussion and debate. Three conceptions of the relation-ship between people and politics are presented: engagement, passivity, and detachment. In addi-tion, while the 16-year-olds participated in political discussions privately and at school, they statedthat they did not participate in political discussions in social media. Implications for citizenship andsocial studies education include the need to strengthen the bottom-up perspective on politics andfocus on in-depth understanding of political processes and tools and methods of social-scientificenquiry, as well as providing students with opportunities for and practice with handling oppositionin political discussions online.
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