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Transcending dichotomies: The many faces of youth dissatisfaction in democracy
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4294-2042
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the recent scholarly debates over changing citizenship attitudes and norms in advanced democracies, especially when it comes to rising levels of political dissatisfaction, opinion about the political role of young people is divided. For some scholars, they represent a driving force behind the development of new kinds of citizenship values, and constitute an asset to the functioning of political systems. For others, they pose a potential threat to the health of representative democracy, because of their increasing levels of dissatisfaction and civic disengagement. By contrast with these two competing approaches, this dissertation advances the argument that a more balanced view of young people’s political activities is called for. Adopting a quantitative approach, it aims therefore to contribute to better theoretical and empirical understanding of young people’s political dissatisfaction, and to explain their role in a democratic society. Considering different aspects of dissatisfaction, the current dissertation contributes to previous research in significant ways. Among others things, it adds to our knowledge by showing empirically that, in terms of political dissatisfaction, young people constitute a heterogeneous group, with different political roles and profiles, ranging from the healthy to the more threatening. Moreover, it contributes to previous research by highlighting the crucial role played by fair teachers in providing linkages between young citizens and the wider political system. All in all, the findings in the current dissertation have implications for the ongoing debate over the role and significance of young people in the functioning of democratic systems, and also for political socialization research.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university , 2014. , p. 98
Series
Örebro Studies in Political Science, ISSN 1650-1632 ; 35
Keywords [en]
political dissatisfaction, adolescents, critical citizens, procedural fairness, political attitudes
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-34732ISBN: 978-91-7529-022-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-34732DiVA, id: diva2:712397
Public defence
2014-06-05, Prismahuset, Hörsal 2, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-15 Created: 2014-04-15 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Understanding critical citizenship and other forms of public dissatisfaction: an alternative framework
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Understanding critical citizenship and other forms of public dissatisfaction: an alternative framework
2012 (English)In: Politics, Culture and Socialization, ISSN 1866-3427, E-ISSN 2196-1417, Vol. 3, no 1-2, p. 179-196Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Previous research has paid much attention to citizen dissatisfaction and the trends of growing political disaffection, cynicism, and scepticism – in short, the emergence of 'critical citizens'. Also, more recently, critical citizens have sometimes been viewed as an asset for democracy. However, despite both pessimistic and optimistic interpretations of public criticism, the issue of conceptualizing negative attitudes has received less attention. The present study was conducted to enrich understanding of this particular dimension of citizens' attitudes. To this end, the paper suggests an alternative theoretical framework for analysing various forms of negative political orientations. The framework has been tested empirically using three types of statistical procedures, which demonstrate its validity and usefulness.

Keywords
Critical citizens, political dissatisfaction, political disaffection, negative political orientations, political attitudes, youths
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-27846 (URN)
Projects
PSP, Political Socialisation Program
Available from: 2013-03-04 Created: 2013-03-04 Last updated: 2018-05-12Bibliographically approved
2. Dissatisfied citizens: an asset or a burden in democratic functioning of a society?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dissatisfied citizens: an asset or a burden in democratic functioning of a society?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Past research has shown that, whereas the majority of people in democracies support the idea of democracy as a form of governance, some citizens are dissatisfied with the democratic institutions and the way democracy performs. In this paper, we examined democratic characteristics of dissatisfied youths to understand the role they play in the democratic functioning of a society. Based on youth’s dissatisfaction with the performance of political institutions and the principles of democracy, we identified four groups distinct of citizens. Then, we compared these groups in terms of their political engagement, knowledge and interest, values and attitudes, and law breaking attitudes. The results showed that youths with high levels of principle- and performance-driven dissatisfaction were less likely to participate in politics, less knowledgeable and interested in political issues, and more likely to break the laws, even if people got hurt compared to other three groups. In contrast, youths who were only dissatisfied with the performance of democratic institutions were more likely to participate in politics, and have higher humanistic values and tolerance towards immigrants. By examining distinct groups of dissatisfied citizens and their democratic characteristics, the current study contributes to the general debate on the role of dissatisfied citizens in democracies.

Keywords
dissatisfied citizen, critical citizen, performance-driven dissatisfaction, principledriven dissatisfaction, democracy, attitudes to law-breaking
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-35330 (URN)
Available from: 2014-06-11 Created: 2014-06-11 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
3. The impact of political conviction on the relation between winning or losing and political dissatisfaction: findings from Sweden
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The impact of political conviction on the relation between winning or losing and political dissatisfaction: findings from Sweden
2014 (English)In: SAGE Open, ISSN 2158-2440, E-ISSN 2158-2440, Sage Open, ISSN ISSN 2158-2440, Vol. 4, no 2Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Election outcomes, or more specifically belonging to a political minority or majority, have a significant impact on citizens’ attitudes toward the political system and political involvement. This study aims to broaden our understanding in these regards by taking into account the effects of people’s political convictions on the relation between belonging to a political minority or majority and their dissatisfaction with the performance of the political system. Using a person-oriented approach, four groups of citizens were identified on the basis of their attachment to political parties. The group of people who were not politically attached to any of the political parties were the most dissatisfied, whereas supporters of parties in government were the least dissatisfied. Moreover, supporters of opposition parties who had high levels of political conviction were more dissatisfied than supporters of opposition parties who had lower levels of political conviction. Overall, the findings of this study show that it is crucial to take into account the individual characteristics of citizens when studying the relations between election outcomes and political attitudes.

Keywords
political dissatisfaction, political attachment, election outcomes, political conviction, political minority, political majority
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-35056 (URN)10.1177/2158244014535414 (DOI)
Available from: 2014-05-15 Created: 2014-05-15 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
4. Procedural fairness and political trust among young people: evidence from a panel study on Swedish high school students
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Procedural fairness and political trust among young people: evidence from a panel study on Swedish high school students
2015 (English)In: Acta Politica, ISSN 0001-6810, E-ISSN 1741-1416, Vol. 50, no 3, p. 253-278Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

The role of ‘fair’ institutions in developing democratic legitimacy has received increased attention. Citizens who perceive – on basis of past experiences – that they are being treated fairly by authorities have been held to have greater trust in political institutions. However, previous studies on the relationship between procedural fairness and political trust have not paid sufficient attention to individuals with limited first-hand experiences of authorities. We examine the relationship on an authority that virtually all individuals meet early in life: the school. Using structural equation modeling on unique panel data covering 1,500 Swedish adolescents (ages ranging from 13 to 17), we find a reciprocal relationship: personal encounters with school authorities shape young people’s political trust; however, the images that adolescents get of the political system (through family, peers, media, etc.) have also consequences on their perceptions about the authorities they encounter in their daily lives. The analysis increases our understanding of how individuals form their political allegiances by showing that the relationship between fairness and trust is more dynamic than has previously been suggested: neither an accumulated set of experiences of authorities nor formal ties with political institutions (as voters, etc.) are required for a relationship to emerge. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Palgrave Macmillan Ltd., 2015
Keywords
Procedural fairness, political trust, reciprocal, school, adolescents, Sweden, structural equation modeling
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-35331 (URN)10.1057/ap.2014.22 (DOI)000359176500001 ()
Note

This study was made possible by access to data from the Political Socialization Program, a longitudinal research program at YeS (Youth & Society) at Örebro University, Sweden. Responsible for the planning, implementation, and financing of the collection of data in this project were Professors Erik Amnå, Mats Ekström, Margaret Kerr, and Håkan Stattin. The data collection was supported by grants from the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. Moreover, the participation of Pär Zetterberg in the writing of this study was made possible by a grant from the Swedish Research Council.

Available from: 2014-06-11 Created: 2014-06-11 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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