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Citizenship Norms and the Participation of Young Adults in a Democracy

Authors: Samsudin A. Rahim, Latiffah Pawanteh, Ali Salman


This paper explores the changing trend in citizenship norms among young citizens from various ethnic groups in Malaysia and the extent to which it influences the participation of young citizens in political and civil issues. Embedded in democratic constitutions are the rights and freedoms that accompany citizenship, and these rights and freedoms include participation. Participation in democracies should go beyond voting; it should include taking part in the governance process. The political process is not at risk even though politics does not work as it did in the past. A national sample of 1697 respondents between the ages of 21 and 40 years were interviewed in January 2011. The findings show that respondents embrace an engaged-citizenship norm more than they do the traditional duty-citizen norm. Among the ethnic groups, the Chinese show lower means in both citizenship norms compared with other ethnic groups, namely, the Malays and the Indians. The duty-citizen norm correlates higher with political participation than with civic participation. On the other hand, the engaged-citizen norm correlates higher with civic participation than with political participation.

Keywords: Globalization, Political participation, youths, citizenship norms, civic participation

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