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Politics inspires PhD for 3MT winner

Marcus Butler

28 September 2016: Dr Max Halupka would argue with anyone who suggests that young people are not engaged in the political system in Australia and he’s got the research to prove it.

Dr Halupka received a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Canberra on Wednesday for his work Contemporary Political Participation: exploring the relationship between technology and politics within a period of late-modernity, a thesis by publication.

His research examined new methods used by young people to be heard in the political system and he found that they are far from disengaged.

“New technologies, social media, online engagement, even accessing diverse news sources are very different to the types of political engagement their parents would recognise,” he explained.

“The structured and defined Australian political party system doesn’t appeal to young people and they are finding new ways to be heard.

“We’ve moved a long way from the idea of politically switched on young people taking part in protests or perhaps volunteering for a political party. Nowadays, they will be networking via social media, creating online petitions or sharing thought-provoking content to spread a message of their own.”

Dr Halupka said engaging in political discussion is now as simple as finding new sources of news and sharing that content among a wider social network.

“I think this technologically savvy and connected generation, Gen Y and Millennials, are quite politically astute and engaged, but if the Australian political system doesn’t hold up its end of the conversation we could see a very disillusioned, disgruntled and potentially disruptive generation on the rise.  

“There is a negative feeling on both sides of this emerging divide between citizens and the state, they both have their doubts about this new engagements ability to cause change, but that’s still unlikely to derail the process now.”

Dr Halupka counts his work with the University’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, including the Power of 1 study and exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy, and winning the University’s 2014 Three Minute Thesis competition among the highlights of his studies.

Read about more of our recent graduates:

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Exchanges add to UC degree for Stella

Stephen graduates with double degree

Angela’s aim to improve young lives leads to PhD