It is generally accepted that the youth are overall apathetic towards political activities and that such apathy is evidenced in low voter turnout during elections. Such conventional wisdom seems to be based mainly on findings in Western democracies and generates concern as to the future nature and resilience of democracy. When a significantly large proportion of the voting population shows apathetic attitudes towards the processes that enable participation of the public in democracy, it questions the extent to which a democracy can be consolidated. In the past the South African youth played an important role in the process of transformation to democracy and thereby possibly left a legacy of youth involvement. However, in the developing world, which includes South Africa, the youth seems to show the same sort of abstaining behaviour as their Western counterparts towards elections. This is problematic as the South African youth comprises a significantly large proportion of the voting population. This dissertation focuses on South African university youth and their political and voting behaviour. They have been chosen for the focus of this study as they are widely considered to be the future elite and leadership of South Africa. The aim of this study is to determine the extent to which Western scholarly explanations of youth voting behaviour can be applied to South African university youth. Western literature on voting behaviour identifies various models of voting behaviour (which comprise the Sociological Model, Michigan Model, Party Identification Model, Media/Dominant Ideology Model and Rational Choice Model) and age effects on voting behaviour (Cohort Effect, Individual Ageing Effect and Life Cycle Effect). Each of these seeks to explain voting behaviour and in order to determine how applicable they are to South African university youth, an analytical framework was developed in order to analyse and interpret the data gathered by means of questionnaires and focus group discussions. Ultimately it was found that most Western models and age effects are to some extent applicable in explaining the voting behaviour of South African university youth (albeit to a greater or lesser extent).
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Van der Merwe, Kelsey; Maree, Tania(Wiley, 2016-07)
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