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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Why Aren't South Africa's Born Frees Voting? An Examination of the Influences of Social Trust and Corruption on Voting Tendencies in a Sample of South African Youth
by Gottschalk, Francesca Rose Emma, M.A., The American University of Paris (France), 2015, 117; 13871657
Abstract (Summary)

In the South African federal elections in May 2014, over one million born-frees failed to register to vote. This lack of political participation was surprising because this was the first election in which this new generation of voters, who had never lived under the oppressive apartheid regime, was eligible to vote. It was hypothesized that social trust and corruption, as it undermines political trust, were contributing factors to the low rates of youth voter turnout. A pilot study was developed and implemented with a small group of South Africans who were participating in a youth development program at a nongovernmental organization in the Western Cape. Focus group and interview data suggested that corruption, crime rates, and access to adequate services were of large concern in this sample. A survey developed through adaptation of items from the 2012 South African Reconciliation Barometer and the World Bank’s Integrated Questionnaire for the Measurement of Social Capital showed a potential relationship between levels of political and social trust and voting behaviour. Due to these results, and the finding that participants were highly engaged with social media, recommendations to increase youth political participation included social media campaigns, using Facebook to create social capital, and promotion of education as a tool to develop interpersonal trust and political participation through enhanced access, quality, and scholarships. One novel finding within this research was that respondents expected the government to be the provider of tangible goods and services whereas the onus of completing education and securing employment was on the individual. This group seems to have a sense of personal agency that, if capitalized upon, could create a generation of politically active young people. Despite methodological concerns and limitations associated with sample size, this pilot study is an important contribution to the political participation literature and opens the door for large-scale quantitative studies to examine more closely the impacts of corruption, political trust, and social trust on voting behaviours in the born-free generation.

Indexing (document details)
School: The American University of Paris (France)
School Location: France
Source: MAI 58/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Political science, South African Studies
Keywords: Born-frees, South Africa, Voters
Publication Number: 13871657
ISBN: 978-1-392-03807-9
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