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The University of Southampton

Why don't people care more about politics?

Published: 25 October 2007

Ways of getting more people involved with politics and decision-making will be examined at a new Centre for Citizenship and Democracy at the University of Southampton's School of Social Sciences. Researchers in the Centre will also look at issues such as migration, immigration and social cohesion.

Former Government advisor Matthew Taylor, who now leads the Royal Society for encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), will launch the Centre on Monday 5 November at a lunchtime event at the University's John Hansard Gallery, alongside several leading politicians and academics.

The Centre for Citizenship and Democracy is led by Professor Gerry Stoker. His Why Politics Matters was named the best politics book of 2006 by the Political Studies Association for its well argued proposition that the UK needs to engage citizens more effectively in decisions that affect them.

Professor Stoker commented: "Engagement is important for achieving the public policy outcomes that people and policy-makers care about, such as low crime rates and the absence of anti-social behaviour, economically developed and cohesive communities, and a fully working democratic system."

The Centre will use the launch to promote its recently completed website Teaching Citizenship in Higher Education developed in partnership with Keele and Liverpool John Moores Universities.

Project director, Professor Graham Smith, added: "Over the past three years we have worked with tutors and students in a wide range of universities across the country to develop attractive and stimulating learning activities for teaching citizenship. We hope that the new website will challenge our students to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviours as citizens."

The Centre is already involved, with the University of Manchester, in a £800,000 research project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, which is examining how the UK engages citizens in public decision-making and in how policies are delivered.

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