Different Means to an End: Exploring the Methods and Objectives of the Youth Climate Movement

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Date
2022-02
Authors
Ganslandt, Klara Emilia
Keyword
Climate Change , Youth , Social Movements , Activism
Abstract
In September 2019, streets across the world filled with millions of children and youth demanding climate action, demonstrating the growing concern young people feel about their futures (Taylor, Watts, & Bartlett, 2019). However, protests are only one of the methods youths use to show their dissatisfaction with current climate change policies. Youth are also utilizing education, entrepreneurship, civil disobedience, legal actions, and many more methods to influence and challenge the social and economic system (O’Brien et al., 2018). While youth have gained increasing attention in popular media, their voices are still largely absent from the climate change literature (Petrasek MacDonald et al., 2013). The studies that have been done on the youth climate movement tend to focus on only one form of activism, often student strikes, and do not feature the youth activists themselves. This study is a cross-sectional, qualitative analysis on an organizational scale to examine the methods, objectives, and values of organizations in the youth climate movement in Canada. Nine leaders from eight youth-driven or focused climate change organizations utilizing different forms of activism participated in semi-structured individual interviews. The key goals of the youth climate movement appeared to be centered around solving the climate crisis, uplifting and empowering youth voices, achieving climate justice, changing policies and systems, and building networks and relationships. Furthermore, these goals and values are influenced by science, emotions, and sociocultural factors. The methods or tactics utilized ranged from protest to filmmaking- Overall, it appears that the movement is rather wide both in its scope and its choice of methods for change. These findings add much to the youth climate movement and social movement literature, even with this study’s limited scope. It gives a better understanding of the movement in Canada, offers a broader understanding of the movement by analyzing more than one form of activism, and it gives youth a voice in the literature. It also demonstrates how understanding youth as a form of marginalization is an important part of understanding the youth climate movement and how youth utilize this movement to renegotiate negative stereotypes about their civic engagement.
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