Political engagement and opinions of youth in post-apartheid South Africa: a qualitative study

SOURCE: Politikon
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2021
TITLE AUTHOR(S): E.Bornman, J.Harvey, H.Janse van Vuuren, B.Kekana, M.F.Matuludi, B.Mdakane, L.Ramphele
KEYWORDS: DEMOCRACY, VOTING, YOUTH
DEPARTMENT: Inclusive Economic Development (IED)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 12054
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/16129
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/16129

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Abstract

Since the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994, a new generation of 'Born Frees' have been able to vote. With a worldwide decrease in formal political engagement and a rise in alternative forms of political participation among the youth, this qualitative study investigates political engagement among youth from the Pretoria area. Six focus groups were conducted from 2014 to 2018. The results indicate that post-apartheid youth are not a monolithic group. Some youth were enthusiastic and regarded voting as a rite of passage to adulthood. Voting was, furthermore, perceived as a valued right, an obligation due to those who struggled against apartheid, and a way to influence society. However, some black participants voiced apathy and/or disillusionment with the current (older) political leadership and parties. Not voting was perceived as a conscious act of political opposition. Conclusions are drawn about the implications for the South African democracy.