Since the 1990s, political apathy among young people has been a recurrent issue in political science. This article examines, on the basis of a survey of the current debate about political apathy in Germany and an analysis of civic education textbooks for the lower secondary level in Baden-Württemberg, how contemporary German textbooks reflect young people’s interest in politics. This article will show that, while political apathy in textbooks can be explained as the result of either an individual deficit on the part of the reader or a structuralist deficit of the political system, the latter explanation is more likely to encourage critical political thinking among young people in Germany.
Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the 2007 French presidential elections represents a true rupture: rupture with years of political apathy, rupture with what was an escalating rise of political protest, rupture with a "law" that since 1981 seemed to require that every outgoing majority be beaten. Sarkozy's electoral victory was substantial. It was built on a notion that what the French were looking for was a strong sense of direction, and it gave rise to a dynamic of striking change right after the election (a political opening to the left, a shift in presidential style, disarray in the Socialist Party, and the marginalization of the National Front).
Hannah Arendt and Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich produced influential accounts of the postwar West-German population's silence or inarticuleteness. The Mitscherlichs claimed that this silence was symptomatic of a blocked process of mourning; Arendt saw it as a legacy of brutal totalitarian rule. However, both viewed the rapid economic recovery as evidence of the German inability to engage in discursively mediated therapeutic and political processes. Frantic busyness was a form of silence. This paper presents a critical reassessment of these approaches. By drawing on Albert Hirschman's theory of exit and voice, it argues that economic activity possesses a communicative dimension. The alleged retreat from politics is not a symptom of muteness but rather indicates people's preference for an alternative mode of communication. Arendt and the Mitscherlich may be right in assuming a correlation between the postwar economic recovery and ostensible political apathy, but lack the conceptual means to clarify the relationship.
Recognizing the Democratic Potential of Alternative Forms of Political Participation
Brendan McCaffrie and Sadiya Akram
According to the mainstream literature on political participation, declining rates of voting and party and interest group membership reflect a crisis of democracy in Western democracies. In this article, we challenge this view by highlighting the rise of alternative forms of political participation that operate outside formal arenas. We suggest that the mainstream approach ignores such forms of political participation for two reasons: First, it operates with a narrow arena definition of politics; second, it is based on the assumption that non-participation in arena politics results from political apathy. We suggest that there is not a crisis of political participation, but there is a growing crisis in engagement resulting from an uncoupling between citizens and the state. Halting this form of democratic decline through a recoupling process will require changes on the part of governments and citizens.
Ben Berkowitz and Jean-Paul Gagnon
“common people” to fix problems they have to live with on a day-to-day basis is a prelude to the irascible citizen ( White 2012 ), which, according to certain scholars (e.g., Dean 1960 ; Lee 2009 ), is itself a prelude to political apathy and a citizen
Making Sense of the Digital Political Landscape and Assessing the Potential for Mobilization versus Apathy
theme emerging from the interviews pertains to the desire of the participants to engage in the political sphere, to how it can be made more inclusive, and to an exploration of why some of the participants have resigned themselves to political apathy
Democratic Theory through an Agonistic Lens
support Trump's campaign ( Shahid 2016 ). Mouffe's critique of the current lack of conflict is that it does not offer citizens adequate outlets for the expression of their difference. Influenced by Carl Schmitt, she argues that political apathy stems
self-harming and that do not commit us to repetitive and damning self-denigration, as well as, ultimately, political apathy? And are we content to digest singular patterns of individual and national shaming, while remaining devoid of the appetite for
A Relationship of Tension
, which can be either constructive or destructive in the sense of (an increase of) democratisation and (an increase of) autocratisation. 3. The unwritten rules of the political give rise to political apathy and thus also lead to stability, since their
protest as the risks these processes import are far too great to participate in while struggling to maintain household finances. This is not political apathy. This form of immobility is not easily addressed through policy. It is not easily framed