Democratic disconnect? The youth and democracy in South Africa

Maree, Hester Mullerene (2022-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Democracy requires and active and supportive citizenry. People can be active citizens by providing both attitudinal and behavioural support for democracy. Attitudes are drivers of political behaviour. Without positive attitudes, there can be no positive behaviours. Political participation can be divided into two parts: conventional and unconventional. Voting is essential for any democracy to prevail. However, recently, there has been a shift in electoral participation – voter turnout among young people has been on the decline and they are shifting away from conventional modes of participation, to unconventional modes of participation. Along with this shift, young people have also grown more sceptical of political actors and institutions. They feel unrepresented by political processes and they feel unsatisfied with the current democracy. Globally, this is a growing concern. However, it is an even bigger concern in younger democracies. South Africa is a relatively new democracy, with a growing youth bulge. Young South African’s are also distancing themselves from electoral politics. The fact that young people in South Africa are not participating in politics, means that the future stability and legitimacy of the regime is being put to the test. This study aims to examine whether there are differences in attitudinal and behavioural bases of support for democracy among young people, compared to their older counterparts. Thereafter, the study explores whether or not changes in attitudinal support can account for changes in behavioural bases of support for democracy. The study adopts a quantitative research design to be able to examine and answer the three research questions. Data was obtained from the Afrobarometer Survey Round 7 and the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) post-election survey. The results suggest that there are differences in attitudinal bases of support for democracy among young people, compared to their older counterparts. The study also indicates that young people are not participating in conventional forms of political participation. Lastly, the study shows that there are correlations between trust and political participation, which suggests that changes in attitudinal bases of support can account for differences in behavioural bases of support for democracy across age groups.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Demokrasie vereis n aktiewe en ondersteunende burgerskap. Mense kan aktiewe burgers wees deur beide houdings- en gedragsondersteuning vir demokrasie te bied. Houdings is dryfvere van politieke gedrag. Sonder positiewe houdings kan daar geen positiewe gedrag wees nie. Politieke deelname kan in twee dele verdeel word: konvensioneel en onkonvensioneel. Stem is noodsaaklik vir enige demokrasie om te seevier. Onlangs was daar egter 'n verskuiwing in verkiesingsdeelname – kiesersopkoms onder jongmense was aan die afneem en hulle verskuif weg van konvensionele wyses van deelname, na onkonvensionele wyses van deelname. Saam met hierdie verskuiwing het jongmense ook meer skepties geword oor politieke akteurs en instellings. Hulle voel nie verteenwoordig deur politieke prosesse nie en hulle voel ontevrede met die huidige demokrasie. Wereldwyd is dit 'n groeiende kommer. Dit is egter selfs ‘n groter bekommernis in jonger demokrasiee. Suid-Afrika is 'n relatief nuwe demokrasie, met 'n groeiende jeugbult. Jong Suid-Afrikaners distansieer hulle ook van verkiesingspolitiek. Die feit dat jongmense in Suid-Afrika nie aan die politiek deelneem nie, beteken dat die toekomstige stabiliteit en legitimiteit van die regime op die proef gestel word. Hierdie studie het ten doel om te ondersoek of daar verskille is in houdings- en gedragsbasisse van ondersteuning vir demokrasie onder jongmense, in vergelyking met hul ouer ewekniee. Daarna ondersoek die studie of veranderinge in houdingsondersteuning verantwoordelik kan wees vir veranderinge in gedragsbasisse van ondersteuning vir demokrasie. Die studie neem 'n kwantitatiewe navorsingsontwerp aan om die drie navorsingsvrae te kan ondersoek en beantwoord. Data is verkry uit die ‘Afrobarometer Survey Round 7’ en die ‘Comparative National Elections Project’ (CNEP) na-verkiesingsopname. Die resultate dui daarop dat daar verskille in houdingsbasisse van ondersteuning vir demokrasie onder jongmense is, in vergelyking met hul ouer eweknieë. Die studie dui ook aan dat jongmense nie aan konvensionele vorme van politieke deelname deelneem nie. Laastens toon die studie dat daar korrelasies is tussen vertroue en politieke deelname, wat daarop dui dat veranderinge in houdingsbasisse van ondersteuning verantwoordelik kan wees vir verskille in gedragsbasisse van ondersteuning vir demokrasie oor ouderdomsgroepe heen.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124565
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