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The Dynamics of Youth Political Participation in Southeast Asia: The Case of Malaysia

Mohd Hed, Norhafiza (2017) The Dynamics of Youth Political Participation in Southeast Asia: The Case of Malaysia. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The decline of youth political participation in established democracies has long been researched by scholars and it is often viewed as signalling a crisis of democracy. However, research from the UK and other democracies suggests young people still engage in other non-mainstream political activities closer to their everyday lives. While scholarship from semi-democratic regions has traditionally neglected this line of enquiry, limiting itself to electoral participation, by applying these theoretical insights this thesis explores the diverging patterns of youth political participation in Malaysia and argues that young people are not apathetic towards politics but rather that they tend to practice low-risk, more diffused forms of everyday engagement like online activism, political discussion, etc. The research thus also sheds light on whether patterns of youth political participation in Malaysia are linked to the type of political system and semi-democratic setting or whether they are similar to those for political participation in established democracies. To carry out this investigation, the thesis applies a mixed-methods approach encompassing the quantitative analysis of existing survey data from the World Values Surveys (WVS) and Asian Barometer as well as the qualitative analysis of interviews with academics, political leaders, youth activists and youth non-participants. Evidence from the survey data analysis shows that young Malaysians participate in both conventional and unconventional forms of participation less than their older counterparts. The findings from the qualitative interviews complement these insights by indicating how young people in Malaysia explain and make sense of their own participation in politics, mainly in the form of low-risk channels such as online activism, popular cultural representations, and political discussion more generally. The study thus concludes that while the engagement of young people in politics could contribute to reinforcing the process of democratisation in Malaysia, draconian laws currently in place limit their wider political activism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Politics (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mrs Norhafiza Mohd Hed
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2018 10:41
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2018 10:41
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18997

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