Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Standby citizens: diverse faces of political passivity

  • Erik Amnå (a1) and Joakim Ekman (a2)

Abstract

The current debate on political participation is bound to a discussion about whether citizens are active or passive. This dichotomous notion is nurtured by an extensive normative debate concerning whether passivity is an asset or a threat to democracy; and it is especially manifest in studies of young people's political orientations. Drawing on this discussion, the present study goes beyond the dichotomy by keeping political interest conceptually separate from participation in order to improve our understanding of political passivity. Multivariate cluster analysis of empirical data on Swedish youth suggests that we need to consider three distinctive forms of ‘political passivity’. In the paper we present empirical evidence not only of the existence of a particular ‘standby citizen’, but also of two kinds of genuinely passive young people: unengaged and disillusioned citizens. Alongside active citizens, these people are in distinctly different categories with regard to their political behavior. This entails a new analytical framework that may be used to analyze an empirical phenomenon that has received surprisingly little attention in the literature on political participation and civic engagement.

Copyright

Corresponding author

*E-mail: erik.amna@oru.se

References

Hide All
Almond, G.A. Verba, S. (1963), The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and Democracy in Five Nations, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Almond, G.A. Verba, S. (eds) (1980), The Civic Culture Revisited: An analytical study, Boston, MA and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.
Amnå, E. (2010), ‘Active, passive, or standby citizens? Latent and manifest political participation’, in E. Amnå (ed.), New Forms of Citizen Participation: Normative Implications, Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 191203.
Amnå, E. Zetterberg, P. (2010), ‘A political science perspective on socialization research: young Nordic citizens in a comparative light’, in L.R. Sherrod, C.A. Flanagan and J. Torney-Purta (eds), Handbook of Research on Civic Engagement in Youth, New York: Wileys, pp. 4366.
Axtmann, R. (2001), Balancing Democracy, London: Continuum.
Bang, H.P. Sørensen, E. (1999), ‘The everyday maker: a new challenge to democratic governance’, Administrative Theory & Praxis 21: 325341.
Barber, B. (1984), Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age, Berkley: University of California Press.
Barnes, S.H., Kaase, M. Allerbeck, K.R. (1979), Political Action: Mass Participation in Five Western Democracies, Beverly Hills: Sage.
Bennett, W.L., Wells, C. Freelon, D. (2011), ‘Communicating civic engagement: contrasting models of citizenship in the youth web sphere’, Journal of Communication 61: 835856.
Berger, B. (2009), ‘Political theory, political science and the end of civic engagement’, Perspectives on Politics 7: 335350.
Bergman, L.R., Magnusson, D. El-Khouri, B.M. (2003), Studying Individual Development in an Interindividual Context: A Person-Oriented Approach, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Burns, N., Lehman Schlozman, K. Verba, S. (2001), The Private Roots of Public Action: Gender, Equality, and Political Participation, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Campbell, A., Converse, P.E., Miller, W.E. Stokes, D.E. (1960), The American Voter, New York: John Wiley and Sons.
Coleman, J. (1963), ‘Comment on “On the Concept of Influence”’, Public Opinion Quarterly 27: 6382.
Crozier, M., Huntington, S.P. Watanuki, J. (1975), The Crisis of Democracy, New York: New York University Press.
Dahl, R. (1971), Polyarchy: Participation and Opposition, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Dahl, R. (1989), Democracy and Its Critics, New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Dalton, R. (1999), ‘Political support in advanced industrial democracies’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dalton, R.J. (1988), Citizen Politics in Western Democracies: Public Opinion and Political Parties in the United States, Great Britain, West Germany, and France, Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers.
Dalton, R.J. (2002), Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, New York: Chatham House Publishers/Seven Bridges Press.
Dalton, R.J. (2004), Democratic Challenges, Democratic Choices: The Erosion of Political Support in Advanced Industrial Democracies, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dalton, R.J. (2008), The Good Citizen: How a Younger Generation is Reshaping American Politics, Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Dostie-Goulet, E. (2009), ‘Social networks and the development of political interest’, Journal of Youth Studies 12: 405421.
Downs, A. (1957), An Economic Theory of Democracy, New York: Harper.
Easton, D. (1965), A Framework for Political Analysis, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Ekman, J. Amnå, E. (2012), ‘Political participation and civic engagement: towards a new typology’, Human Affairs 22: 283300.
Fiorina, M.P. (2002), ‘Parties, participation, and representation in America: old theories face new realities’, in I. Katznelson and H. Milner (eds), Political Science: The State of the Discipline, New York: Norton, pp. 511541.
Fisher, D.R. (2012), ‘Youth political participation: bridging activism and electoral politics’, Annual Review of Sociology 38: 119137.
Flanagan, C.A. (2013), Teenage Citizens: The Political Theories of the Young, Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Fuchs, D. Klingemann, H.D. (eds) (1995), Citizens and the State, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gamson, W.A. (1968), Power and Discontent, Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press.
Geissel, B. (2008), ‘Reflections and findings on the critical citizen. Civic education – what for?’, European Journal of Political Research 74: 3463.
Harris, A., Wyn, J. Younes, S. (2010), ‘Beyond apathetic or activist youth. ‘Ordinary’ young people and contemporary forms of participation’, Young 18: 932.
Held, D. (1995), Models of Democracy, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Hoff, J.V. Andersen, J.G. (2001), Democracy and Citizenship in Scandinavia, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.
Holmberg, S. (1999), ‘Down and down we go: political trust in Sweden’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 103122.
Hooghe, M. Dejaeghere, Y. (2007), ‘Does the “Monitorial Citizen” exist? An empirical investigation into the occurrence of postmodern forms of citizenship in the Nordic countries’, Scandinavian Political Studies 30: 249271.
Hoskins, B., Villalba, C., Saisana, M. (2012), The 2011 Civic Competence Composite Indicator (CCCI-2): Measuring Young People's Civic Competence Across Europe Based on the IEA International Citizenship and Civic Education Study. Ispra, Italy: European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen: JRC Scientific and Technical Reports.
Huntington, S.P. (1981), American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony, Cambridge, MA: Belknap P.
Hustinx, L., Meijs, L.C., Handy, F. Cnaan, R.A. (2012), Monitorial citizens or civic omnivores? Repertoires of civic participation among university students, Youth & Society 44: 95117.
Inglehart, R. (1997), Modernization and Postmodernization: Cultural, Economic, and Political Change in 43 Societies, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Klingemann, H. (1999), ‘Mapping political support in the 1990s: a global analysis’, in P. Norris (ed.), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 3156.
Lipset, S.M. Schneider, W. (1983), The Confidence Gap: Business, Labor, and Government in the Public Mind, New York: Free Press.
Loader, B.D. (2007), ‘Introduction: young citizens in the digital age, disaffected or displaced?’, in B.D. Loader (ed.), Young Citizens in the Digital Afe: Political Engagement, Young People and New Media, London: Routledge, pp. 1119.
Marsh, D., O'Toole, T. Jones, S. (2007), Young People and Politics in the UK. Apathy or Alienation?, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Micheletti, M. (2003), Political Virtue and Shopping: Individuals, Consumerism, and Collective Action, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Micheletti, M. Stolle, D. (2009), ‘Vegetarianism as life style politics’, in M. Micheletti and A. McFarland (eds), Creative Participation: Responsibility-taking in the Political World, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, pp. 125145.
Milner, H. (2010), The Internet Generation: Engaged Citizens or Political Dropouts, Medford, MA: Tufts University Press.
Mycock, A. Tonge, J. (2012), ‘The party politics of youth citizenship and democratic engagement’, Parliamentary Affairs 65: 138161.
Norris, P. (ed.) (1999), Critical Citizens: Global Support for Democratic Government, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Norris, P. (2002), Democratic Phoenix: Reinventing Political Activism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Norris, P. (2011), Democratic Deficits: Critical Citizen Revisited, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nye, J.S. (1997), ‘Introduction: The decline of confidence in government’, in J.S. Nye, P.D. Zelikow and D.C. King (eds), Why People Don't Trust Government, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp. 118.
Offe, C. (1973), Politische Herrschaft und Klassenstrukturen. Zur Analyse spätkapitalistischer Gesellschaftssysteme. Politikwissenschaft. Eine Einführung in ihre Problemen, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer.
O'Loughlin, B. Gillespie, M. (2012), ‘Dissenting citizenship? Young people and political participation in the media-security nexus’, Parliamentary Affairs 65: 115137.
Parry, G., Moyser, G. Day, N. (1992), Political Participation and Democracy in Britain, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pateman, C. (1980), ‘The civic culture: a philosophic critique’, in G.A. Almond and S. Verba (eds), The Civic Culture Revisited: An Analytical Study, Boston, MA and Toronto: Little, Brown and Company, pp. 57102.
Pattie, C., Seyd, P. Whiteley, P. (2004), Citizenship in Britain: Values, Participation and Democracy, New York: Cambridge University Press.
Pharr, S.J. Putnam, R.D. (2000), Disaffected Democracies: What's Troubling the Trilateral Countries?, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Phelps, E. (2012), ‘Understanding electoral turnout among British young people: a review of the literature’, Parliamentary Affairs 65: 281299.
Prior, Markus (2010), ‘You've either got it or you don't? The stability of political interest over the life cycle’, The Journal of Politics 72: 747766.
Putnam, R.D. (1995), ‘Bowling alone: America's declining social capital’, Journal of Democracy 6: 6578.
Putnam, R.D. (2000), Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, New York: Simon and Schuster.
Quintelier, E. (2007), ‘Differences in Political Participation Between Young and Old People’, Contemporary Politics 13: 165180.
Rosanvallon, P. (2008), Counter-Democracy. Politics in an Age of Distrust, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rose, R. (1980), Challenge to Governance: Studies in Overloaded Polities, Beverly Hills: Sage.
Sander, T.H. Putnam, R.D. (2010), ‘Still bowling alone? The post-9/11 split’, Journal of Democracy 21: 916.
Schudson, M. (1996), ‘What if civic life didn't die?’, American Prospect 25: 1720.
Schudson, M. (1998), The Good Citizen: A History of American Public Life, New York: Free Press.
Sloam, J. (2012), ‘New voice, less equal: the civic and political engagement of young people in the United States and Europe’, Comparative Political Studies. doi: 10.1177/0010414012453441.
Stoker, G. (2010), ‘The rise of political disenchantment’, in C. Hay (ed.), New Directions in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 4363.
Stolle, D. Hooghe, M. (2011), ‘Shifting inequalities. Patterns of exclusion and inclusion in emerging forms of political participation’, European Societies 13: 119142.
Sweden, Statistics. Population statistics. Statistics Sweden 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2012 from http://www.scb.se/Pages/GsaSearch____287280.aspx
Tabachnick, B.G. Fidell, L.S. (2012), Using Multivariate Statistics, 6th edn., New Jersey: Pearson.
Theiss-Morse, E. Hibbing, J.R. (2005), ‘Citizenship and civic engagement’, Annual Review of Political Science 8: 227249.
Tingsten, H. (1937), Political Behaviour. Studies in Election Statistics, London: P.S. King and Son.
Torcal, M. (2006), ‘Political disaffection and democratisation history in new democracies’, in M. Torcal and J.R. Montero (eds), Political Disaffection in Contemporary Democracies: Social Capital, Institutions, and Politics, London: Routledge, pp. 157190.
van Deth, J.W. (2001), ‘Studying political participation: towards a theory of everything?’. Paper presented at the Joint Sessions of Workshops, European Consortium for Political Research, April 6–11, 2001, Grenoble.
van Deth, J.W., Elff, M. (2000), ‘Political involvement and apathy in Europe 1973–1998’. Working Paper No. 33. Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung.
Vromen, A. Collin, P. (2010), ‘Everyday youth participation? Contrasting views from Australian policymakers and young people’, Young 18: 97112.
Welzel, C. Inglehart, R. (2005), Modernization, Cultural Change, and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zukin, C., Keeter, S., Andolina, M., Jenkins, K. Delli Carpini, M.X. (2006), A New Engagement?, New York: Oxford University.

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed