Against the backdrop of recent social, economic and political developments, traditional interactions between youth, adults and the State have been transformed in a manner that enables youth to engage in politics in new ways. This paper analyses what has made the interaction between youth and the state change, how this change impacts on politics and what the State response to such change has been. The analysis is based on data collected through a nationwide survey of 1,600 citizens conducted by the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI). Findings from this show that the main causes of change reflect new and better opportunities for young people’s education, mobility and digital skills. The change also stems from the breakdown of more traditional interpersonal platforms for interaction and the apparent disinterest of the state in addressing the many challenges facing today’s youth. These changing dynamics have meant that youth are able to influence State decisions by expressing support for issues through ‘likes’ for political parties on social media platforms and to influence voter behaviours. In response to increased online activity, the Cambodian Prime Minister has been prompted to reach young people through a Facebook page, established to address issues as they arise. Future political stability will significantly depend on the State’s interaction with young people and its ability to address youth-related issues in meaningful and productive ways.
Len Ang, Cambodia Development Resource Institute, Cambodia
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