Introduction

Young people were the focus of widespread media attention before and after the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Young people were often characterized as alienated, mistrustful, and disinterested with political systems (Barrett & Brunton-Smith, 2014; Dermody & Hanmer-Lloyd, 2004; Macnamara, Sakinofsky, & Beattie, 2012). Indeed, young individuals were less politically engaged than every other age group yet given their perceived preference for membership in the EU compared to older generations, their absence from the vote may have been the deciding factor. This raises an important question: is voter turnout the singular measure of engagement? This has led a variety of authors (Boonen, Meeusen, & Quintelier, 2014; Fieldhouse, Trammer, & Russel, 2007; Henn, Weinstein, & Forrest, 2005; Henn, Weinstein, & Wring, 2002; Wagner, Johann, & Kritzinger, 2012) to call for further research addressing young voter participation and associated confounding variables. The aim of this study is to (1) explore how young people engaged with the EU referendum event on 23 June 2016 and (2) to contribute more broadly to a general theory of political event engagement. This can help hypothesize how young voters differ and what can be done to activate their interest through the marketing of political events.