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n Journal for Contemporary History - Die sosiopolitieke sienings van 'n groep Suid-Afrikaanse universiteitstudente oor demokrasie in Suid-Afrika

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2422
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Abstract

Democracy in South Africa is under pressure. A growing number of citizens are convinced that the government is underperforming and that democracy is often undermined. The current generation of young adults will soon play a leading role in all sectors of society. Their sociopolitical views and involvement are of particular relevance to the future of South Africa, especially with regard to the retention and expansion of democracy as an institution and governance model. Researchers point to a global trend of increasing political distrust and apathy which is a result of weak and corrupt government. Since the nineties a similar trend has emerged in South Africa. The youth have become increasingly uninvolved in politics - a trend that is in stark contrast to the political activism that characterised the black youth during the apartheid era. Young adults no longer feel obliged to engage in politics or civil society. Various studies have indicated that political trust in government and positive sociopolitical attitudes are prerequisites to optimal social and political involvement. A stable, lasting and prosperous democracy is threatened without the active involvement of the adult youth. In view of the above, an empirical study was conducted to establish the views that young adults (as "new" voters) hold on South Africa as a democracy. The investigation concentrated primarily on their views regarding the success of the current government and their confidence in the South African political context. This article focuses on the sociopolitical attitudes and opinions of the studying youth in particular. Research consistently correlates post-school qualifications with political participation. It follows that young adults in tertiary institutions - the so-called intellectual cream - are primarily responsible for the delivery of social capital which is vital to future political and community involvement in a democratic dispensation. Hence the following questions arise: What are university students' sociopolitical views? Do their views affect their confidence in the government? An analysis of the data gleaned by the investigation revealed tendencies that are supported by the literature. It seems that young adult students are disillusioned with democracy in South Africa, and its negative consequences are illustrated by the data. The empirical findings of this study confirm these trends. The data reflects the dissatisfaction with the performance of government institutions and key functions of government and the perception that government and state institutions are plagued by corruption. High levels of distrust exist in the government and its institutions, resulting in a large degree of sociopolitical apathy. The government faces a distinct challenge. Drastic steps should be taken to restore confidence in democracy. Strategies should be developed for young adults to become involved in sociopolitical activities, otherwise democracy in South Africa will gradually weaken, with far-reaching consequences. The findings of this research and of similar studies can no longer be ignored.

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/content/contemp/38/1/EJC138883
2013-06-01
2016-12-11

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