Background of the Study
Political apathy is frequently viewed as a social problem. One e example of this concern may be noted in a standard text, where the authors deplore the fact that “that average election rarely brings out more than 50 per cent of this possible vote. Such a situation, in a democracy, is an anomaly.
In a similar way, Van Deth explained that it can be manifested in the systematic distrust of the institution, which causes people to be less civic-minded, less well-informed about current events, and less inclined to vote or otherwise participate in political life. More so, political apathy affects both old and young people alike but accordingly, young people have comparatively lower level of political knowledge than their older contemporaries, and have a distinct lack of interest in politics. The justification for labelling the young as apathetic or apolitical usually comes from the different researches related to civic responsibility which were often indicated by studies on voter turnout, and knowledge current affairs.
Political apathy and a lack of interest in joining traditional youth organizations seem to characterize the younger generation in many countries. To many young people, the world of politics seems far removed from their daily realities. Low voter turnout and dwindling membership in political parties should not lead to the conclusion that young people are disinterested in the political future of their societies.
According to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) mentioned that the youth political apathy is not only limited to developing countries; instead they emphasized that it has emerged as a major problem in both established and evolving democracies, stable and unstable societies, sizeable and flourishing economies, as well as small and troubles ones.
Markedly, it has been observed that political apathy is a very widespread phenomenon in different countries particularly young people.
In the article of The Guardian entitled “Apathetic and disaffected: the generation who may never vote”. Once, the theory was the people would drift towards the polls when they grew up and became mature, tax-paying citizens. But now the young disengaged are turning into middle-aged disengaged, who may ultimately become a new phenomenon. Evidence shows that voting is a habit that millions may just never get into, particularly if they are less well-off. Ove three quarters of people cast their vote and turnout was roughly equal across the generation. But according to data from Ipsos Mori at the last election, 76% of over-65s were still voting, while declining to 44% aged 18-24. Further, the article found many people have a feeling stronger than apathy: downright disaffection. “Young people don’t think institution or politicians are the answer.”
The same condition in America, in the study of Aaron Blake. “Our turnout rate has been consistently declining since the 1970s. A new study that suggests that trend is likely to continue in November’s midterm elections. It shows that young Americans are on track to set a new low for turnout in a midterm election, and a record number of states could set their own new records for lowest percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots. The study, from the Center for the study of the American Electorate, shows turnout in the 25 states that have held statewide primaries for both parties is down by nearly one-fifth from the last midterm, in 2010. While 18.3 percent of eligible voters cast ballots back then, it has been just 14.8 percent so far this year.
Significantly it also clear in the Philippines, in the study of Sandoval, Mangahas, and Guerrero of Social Weather Stations (SWS) found out that Filipino youth does not give much importance to matters of politics, for they think that they can do little about this. There are several barriers that cause loss of interest of the youth in politics.
In the article of Dr. Jayeel Serrano Cornelio entitled “Millennial Apathy”, he said, “millennial apathy is what it is often referred to, with young people dismissing People Power as an irrelevant moment in history. The contemporary youth are depoliticized stands in stark contrast to the sacrifice made by young activists during the Martial law. That many young people today readily dismiss People Power in 1986 as a failed or irrelevant revolution might feel like a dagger in the hearts of many who went through the merciless fantasy of the New Society. Thus, to characterize today’s young people, however, as apathetic is misleading.”
In the article of CJ Chanco entitled “Is our generation anti-political?’ he stated “some like what they see as the youth’s growing political apathy to a broader assault on academic freedom. A more conservative atmosphere on campus had led to a crack-down on critical thought. Still others, like anthropologist Jason Hickel, point to the politics of liberalism, or the postmodern condition. Liberalism feeds into a kind of apolitical politics, which puts a premium on consensus over conflict. Differences in political opinion are erased in the name of balance. There is no right or left, only vague centrism that ends up reinforcing that status quo. As a result, the real issues- from tuition hikes to democratic rights to global poverty- are systematically downplayed.
Moreover, in the study of Kuhar, he pointed out that there are several important barriers that prevent or even abstain from being active in politics are: a longer economic dependence on their family; unemployment pressures; a diminishing role of politically active autonomous peer groups; and the consequent retreat into petty.
This study is the benchmark of an exploratory study of Morris Rosenberg on the Dimension of Political Apathy that was published from Public Opinion Quarterly. Accordingly, there were three general factors appeared as the result of the study, namely, (1) the threatening consequences of political activity; (2) the futility of political activity and lastly, and (3) the absence of spurs to interest and participation. Further, the paper suggested several factors which in some cases contribute to political apathy. That these factors have some significance is clearly suggested by the data, but their relative importance, their statistical distribution among various population sub-groups, and their inter-relationships must remain subject for more systematic research. Thus, this study will adopt the three general factors from the exploratory paper of Morris Rosenberg as the contributing factors to student political apathy to know the level of political apathy among the selected student of Mindanao State University, as well as, and the relationship of student’s religion, culture affiliation, gender and course to the level of political apathy.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The main problem of this study will look into level of political apathy of the student of Mindanao State University.
To further understand the issues presented, the study aims to answer the following questions:
- What are the factors contributes to their political apathy?
- What is the level of political apathy among the Student of MSU Marawi?
- What is the relationship of student’s religion, gender, cultural affiliation, and course to the level political apathy?
OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study aims to achieve the following objective:
To know the factors that contributes to political apathy of the student.
To know the level of political apathy of the student.
To know if there is relations between student’s demographic variables to the level of political apathy.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION
It has been observed that political apathy is a very widespread phenomenon among young generation, their lack of interest in political activity such as discussion, involvement, voting, and participation in political organization. For this matter, the study is focus to the selected student of Mindanao State University-Marawi as its area of coverage since it is economical and convenient to the researcher. This study is confined inside the MSU-main campus and further limited into ten (10) colleges in which five (10) respondents were selected in each college who are officially enrolled during the second semester of the academic year 2017-2018.
The study focuses on the three general factors which bring the absence of political participation and interest provided in the exploratory study of Morris Rosenberg that may explain the level of political apathy of the student. The study, moreover, will also look into the relationship of student’s religion, culture affiliation, gender and course to the level of political apathy.
This study is limited to the information gathered through survey questionnaires and reliable sources such published and unpublished books, and online materials.
Accordingly, the concept of political behaviour as one of the many specialized fields of political science attempts to quantify and explain the influences that define a person’s political views, ideology, and levels of political participation and political apathy. In other words, studying political behaviour means trying to explain why people behave the way they do.
In this study, Political Apathy as the conceptual framework is used to provide the basis and outline the intended information that the researcher wanted to obtain.
Concept of Political Apathy
Political apathy is the lack of psychological involvement in public affairs, emotional detachment from civic obligations, and abstention from political activity. The takeoff point however relates to the word “apathy”, at once denoting “an individual’s impassivity or indifference and a form of collective political behavior. As against the dictates of political participation which brings the people to bear in the political and democratic process of a nation, political apathy shows reservation, restrains and abandonment of the system. Since participation in the political system as discussed previously, the individual has a voluntary right to participate or not to political system.
Political apathy is evidenced in mass, collective behavior but has its origin at the level of the individual psyche. It usually with an individual showing disappointment, distrust and faithlessness in the electoral system and encroaches like to the other members of the society. In the aggregate, political apathy us revealed by attitudes and an absence of expected activity. When people cease to care about political life, withdraw from obligations to civil society, and perform entirely nominal or tote acts- or none at all- in political institutions or organizations, apathy is indicated. Apathy therefore negates the true meaning of democracy which is government of the people, by the people and for the people. The emerging regime and it may lack the local and international backing for its successful administration. It is obvious, therefore, that as a subset of political behavior, vote apathy is multidimensional, operating as it does at the intersections of psychology, sociology, economy, and geography, history, and the contemporary, laws and structures, process and actors, memory, retention and perception, and among others.
However, several factors have been identified in literature as fuelling the growing political apathy. These includes psychological involvement and collective memory of historical and contemporary events and issues, patterns of trust, feeling of efficacy, political engagement and disengagement of individual, geographic regions (Margum 2003; Mason et al, 1991; Thomas 2004). Psychological involvement us purely and individualistic notion that describes the feeling of participation that an individual have about the political process. The closely linked to the feeling of trust and believes in the electoral system. People will rationally stand aloof when they see the system as biased towards a particular system and more so when that see the election system as not credible. In addition, campaigns communication and the media (Panagopoulos 2009) have the probability to instigate political apathy. In the wake of hate campaign, political blackmail and libel that alienates the people from the electoral process, apathy will increase. The media from time has been a critical determinants f public opinion which may be in favour of one person or group at the expense of another. Thirdly, the role of space, distance and convenience of voting (Dyck and Gimpel 2005) can have varied impact on the electoral process which is a fundamental aspect of the democratic system. When the voting system occasion huge cost implication to the individual or the voting system is rigid, electorates will show voting apathy. To this end, government all over the world strive to make the electoral system as simplified as possible so that voters are able to participate irrespective of their educational status, age, abilities and economic status. More so, polling station should be decentralized and brought closer to the people so that the people in the creeks and hinterland can participate in the elections.
Furthermore, Bowler and Donovan (2011) opined that the competiveness of the elections on account of extent to which elections are considered strategic and election outcomes are projected to be close influence political apathy. On the part of those contesting in election, the perception on the fairness of the entire electoral process will determine if he or she will participate in the democratic process. Other motivating factors include impact of technologies and the human, including poll workers, dimensions of elections, the electoral policy itself and the wider issues connected to economic considerations and voting.
Dimension of Political Apathy
In the exploratory study of Morris Rosenberg, there are three general factors appeared as the result of the study. These general factors are as follows:
(1) Threating Consequences of Political Apathy
Accordingly, the democratic right of freedom of speech does not insure that people will feel free to express their political convictions publicly at all times. (a) Threat of governmental action will deter some. (b) Threat to interpersonal harmony, others will be blocked from talking or acting in behalf of their political beliefs out of fear of losing friends, alienating neighbors, endangering marriages; jeopardizing their positions in groups, (c) threats to occupational success: losing business, jeopardizing their jobs, endangering production in their plants; (d) threats of ego-deflation: facing community pressures, or exposing their feeling of self-esteem to threats.
These are consequences which many people are unwilling to face and to avoid these consequences; they impose a self-censorship on their political expression, participation, and even emotional involvement.
(2) Futility of Political Apathy
(a) Based on the sense of personal inadequacy
(b) Unmanageability of political forces
(c) The gap between ideal and reality
Many people may be deterred from political activity by the conviction that their efforts will be futile. An individual may feel that he/she us but one among so many; that the agents of political decisions- representatives, machines, “the government”, certain powerful anonymous forces- are unable or unwilling to heed his voice of follow his/her will; that the political reality is hopelessly remote from the ideal; or that the hopelessness of political victory makes any effort pointless.
It may be observed that these consequences of apathy derive from the particular nature of the social and political structures. The mass nature of the society, characterized by wide disparities of power, remotes the sense of personal insignificance; the centralization of government fosters a sense of remoteness from the key decision-making process; periodic election produce discontinuous exercise of power; the system of representation draws power from the citizen and grants it to the representative.
In other words, a political structure established with the aim of implementing democracy may unwittingly establish the conditions for political apathy.
(3) Absence of spurs to action
It is also relevant to examine the question of apathy in the light of the absence of influences, stimuli, or appeals which might encourage participation.
Under this factor there are three underlying attributes:
(a) The Subject Matter of Politics is often not psychologically compelling
Since the political institution deals with problems of the total society, involving subject of general interest and concern, it tends to have an abstract or impersonal quality. However, for many people, they still remain, dull, remote and uninspiring
(b) Absence of noninstrumental gratification
Some people might conceivably engage in political activity because they enjoyed it, even if the goals they sought were not attained. However, there are individual’s incentive to political activity is often dulled by the absence of direct and immediate satisfaction even if there is monetary rewards or prestige. And some people find their current activity much more directly gratifying than political activity.
(c) Political results meet few direct and urgent needs
Politics may be viewed as a moderately interesting spectacle, but one that is remote from the direct concerns of daily life; they voluntarily alienate her/him in politics. Further, governmental action is considered irrelevant to their lives. They do not conceive of the government as an agent which can solve their immediate and pressing problems.
(d) People often lack a personal thrust to action
Personal influence may be of great importance in determining political attitudes and behavior. The data suggest that interpersonal factor may operate in several different ways to promote apathy or discourage participation.
Interpersonal factors may operate in several ways to promote political apathy.
- The individual may receive no positive encouragement from others to participate.
- The guilt feeling arising from individual’s inactivity may be assuaged by the observation that others in the community are also inactive.
- An individual, ready for action, may be discouraged by the observation that the apathy of other people increases his/her political work.
- The individual may be a member of a group in which political apathy is a positive group norm- group which would discourage political action.
Some people might consider it a social responsibility to participate politically may be reassured by the observation that most other people are apathetic.
Thus, the above discussed the framework of political apathy, its concept and dimensions and factors are essential in this study to obtain the level of political apathy of selected student of Mindanao State University-Marawi, as well as, the relationship of students’ demographic variables.
Locale of the Study
Mindanao State University was established on September 1, 1961 through R.A 1387, as amended was the brain child of the late Senator Domocao A. Alonto, as one of the government’s responses to the so-called “Mindanao Problem.” The original mission of the university was anchored on instruction, research and extension. The 1954 Congressional Committee conceptualized it as a social laboratory for national integration. Its first four decades reflected a glorious past exemplary achievements that brought it to institutional maturity. From one campus in Marawi City starting with 282 students and 12 faculty members in its pioneering of classes in 1962, it has grown to a multi-campus supra-regional university system, serving over 53,000 students in all levels with nearly 3, 100 faculty members.
The locales of the University campuses are vibrant, welcoming and reflect cultural diversity. Moreover, its proud history and unique environment make MSU directly charged by the government to advance the cause of national unity and actively pursue integration through education. Today, MSU has units in seven strategic areas which cut across the Mindanao region. From a one-campus university in Marawi City, MSU has grown to a multi campus university of seven autonomous campuses.
The main campus is composed of sixteen colleges, to wit: College of Agriculture, College of Business Administration and Accountancy, College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Fisheries, College of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Graduate School Center, College of King Faisal Center for Islamic Arabic and Asian Studies, College of Health Sciences, College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, College of Information Technology, College of Law, College of Medicine, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, College of Public Affairs, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and the College of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation.
Method of Data Gathering and Data Analysis
The research study is purely quantitative and descriptive that will look into the level of political apathy. The main method used to gather the necessary information is through descriptive survey using questionnaires, design to reveal the level of political apathy among the selected student of MSU-Marawi.
The questionnaire will use to gather the needed information from the respondents. Checklists of possible responses for each question are provided in part I including the demographic details while they are ask to check the provided questions which corresponds their answer in part II of the questionnaire.
A four-point Likert Scale will be used to measure the responses of the respondents of each item in the questionnaire. The weight and scale of items were as follow: 4-Always; 3-Often; 2- Rarely; 1- Never.
With the use of Simple random sampling method, the researcher will automatically choose Ten (10) respondents from each college. This method is utilized because this allows an equal probability of being included in the sample from their college. Moreover, the data also gather written published and unpublished materials as well as reliable internet sources that are relevant to the study.
Method of Data Analysis
The study will look into the level of political apathy of the student, in order to know the level the researcher provides the following scale: (4) Extreme Apathy; (3) High Apathy; (2) Moderate Apathy; and (1) Low Apathy.
The data gather from the statistical records were presented in the form of graphs. Also, to validate the hypothesis of the study, the Frequency Count and Percentage Distribution will be used in analyzing the data. Tables will be used in presenting the findings of the study. Frequency Count and Percentage Distribution are represented by the formula:
P=f/n x 100%
The above formula will be used wherein ―P is the percentage distribution, ―f is the frequency, ―n is the number of respondents, and 100% as a constant.
REVIEW AND RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter is divided into two parts. On the first hand, the first part presents the foreign researches or studies about political apathy in a certain issue. On the second hand, the second part presents evaluative local studies about the Political Apathy in the Philippines.
An investigation study into political apathy was conducted among the student of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. The study was to examine political apathy amongst student at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and also, to question whether youth political apathy threatens the consolidation of democracy. More specifically, the purpose of this study was to critically
analyse contemporary literature on the politics of young people in post-apartheid South Africa, in order to identify its shortcomings and give an in-depth explanation for youth political apathy, and how it impacts democracy. The writer has employed a qualitative method. Four focus groups were arranged by the researcher at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. All participants of the study were Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) undergraduate and postgraduate black students aged 21-35. The sample of this study included fifty participants. Thus the researcher has utilized a purposive sampling technique. Participants were encouraged by the researcher to have maximum participation in the focus group deliberations. The researcher also made use of elite interviews in the study. The findings of this study suggest that political apathy amongst students at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University does exist. Most of the participants in the focus groups indicated that young people in post-apartheid South Africa have no interest in politics.
Another study was conducted by Yusufu Abdullahi Yakubu entitled Democracy and Political Apathy in Nigeria. The study was an examination of democracy and political apathy in Nigeria between 1999 and 2011. It attempted to find out the dangers of political apathy in Nigeria’s democracy during the period under study. The article observed that political apathy manifested itself in the country between 1999 and 2011 in the following forms: one, the decline to register; two, the refusal to vote; three, failure to protest against rigging and four, failure to assist the security agents with useful information. It discovered that bad governance was responsible for political apathy. The article therefore recommended good governance as a solution to political apathy in Nigeria’s democracy.
Further, the study also conducted by Beatrice Schlee entitled, “Economic Crisis and Political Apathy in Zimbabwe: The impotent society. Accordingly, the Zimbabwean Regime of Zanu-PF has not only survived for decades but also amidst the deepest economic crisis. Whereas scholars expected a political uprising because of the ongoing marginalisation of people, apathy was the dominant feature of political life between 2003 and 2008. In studies of authoritarian regimes, political apathy has hardly played any role. Though many factors have to be considered in an analysis of the stability of the Zanu-PF regime, political apathy plays a key role to understand its long living nature. The paper argues that political apathy –a constant of Zimbabwean society – was nurtured substantially through the crisis. Factors as the high level of personal frustration due to the declining economy and the humiliation of the once proud Zimbabweans whose country served as a model for Africa had a negative impact on political activism. Survival mechanisms, as the chameleon like adaptation to the ever changing environment of hyperinflation did not only shift the focus from politics to economics but also contained the situation as it helped to restore the personal self-esteem of the humiliated. The same is true for the “exit option” which besides migration also encompasses people seeking an inner exile through taking refuge into humour as a way to trivialise the abnormal. The paper holds the thesis that political actors as the opposition party and civil society groups could not escape the overwhelming climate of apathy which affected negatively their capacity of taking action and strategic thinking.
On the Youth’s Political Apathy, the apathy that is connected to politics and political situation, which typically affects both young and old alike, that result in lower and lower voter turnout during elections is called political apathy. The supposed political apathy of young adults and teenagers has been a subject of discussion by the 21st century academics and laypersons alike which is a cause of concern about the future of democracy. According to Dan this is apparent for those in the age group 18 to 24 years. Supported by ample research and poll data like the study of Pew Research in 2010, this age group has traditionally been uninterested in current events, global politics, environmental concerns, and ethical debates involving scientific invention, human trafficking and social equity.
Sarfaraz, Ahmed, Khalid and Ajmal, defined apathy as a state of indifference wherein an individual has an absence of interest or concern to certain aspects of emotional, social or physical life. They further added that it can be object-specific towards a person, activity, or environment. It is the lack of interest in things one does not consider important. It is synonymous to passivity, submissiveness, and even numbness to social, economic, environmental and political issues as evidenced by lack of awareness, concern, social responsibility and action such as voting.
Similarly, Garcia-Albacete supported this, as she explained that the concerns regarding the youth‘s movement away from politics has been emphasized by different institutions and media that resulted to a number of national and international initiatives that confirmed the decrease of interest in politics of the citizens in general, and the young people in particular, as a result of their disaffection towards different institutions and their apathy regarding traditional forms of participation. Some of the usual explanations for the lack of interest in politics include young people‘s belief that politics lacks relevance for them or their preoccupation with other interests and concerns, or the complexity of politics and the difficulties young people have in understanding political life and processes.
A study conducted by Madelene Sta. Maria and Jose Maria Diertro Jr, entitled “The Youth speak: Forms, facilitators and obstacles to their political participation. The drawing of the study on results from four focus group discussions with high school students in rural and urban environments, the researchers explored youth perceptions about their roles as political agents in Philippine society. Participants were also asked to share their ideas on what could hinder and facilitate their engagement of their roles. Both urban and rural youth groups emphasized their avoidance of criminal activities as a way by which they could contribute to societal change. While the rural youth were more particular about their engagement in community activities and the use of resources within the community in the engagement as political actors, the urban youth gave greater importance to participation in mass activities for the common good. Both youth groups saw the lack of appreciation from others for their efforts at participation as a hindrance and the sense of civic commitment as a facilitator to their participation. Differences between the two groups in their constructions of what could hinder or spur their activities as political actors could be found in the way the rural youth emphasized self-related factors, such as agency and knowledge, and in the way the urban youth emphasized non self-related factors, such as time and nature of political activity in the country.
On the other hand, there was a study that concludes youth political participation is not declining rather, it is promising generation. In particular, a study of Wilhelma L. Cabo entitled, Youth and Political Participation in the Philippines: Voices and themes from a Democracy Project”. This study appears to be a prevailing perception that the generation of young people today are uninterested if not apathetic to politics. But is that really the case? Are today’s young generation truly disengaged from politics? This paper focuses on this question, drawing from a democracy project in the Philippines that involved young university students as volunteers in an election monitoring exercise. A content analysis of focus group data and reflection papers of students about their subjective experiences, feelings, insights and views regarding their participation in the project and politics in general belie the conventional wisdom that the young are a politically impassive and indifferent generation. The youths are interested in political life around them and hold critical views about the behaviour of politicians and political candidates. And even as they recognize the weaknesses and deficits in the political system, the youths are interested in political participation not just in voting but in other engagements that support democracy and good government. The paper concludes that today’s youths are a promising generation of political activists whose energies, enthusiasm and aspirations can be mobilized and harnessed to strengthen democratic processes and achieve their aspirations for what they call ‘good society,’ ‘good government’ and ‘good politics.’