Democratic Apathy: Exploring the Roots of Millennial Democratic Fatigue
Chaput, Wesley Menard
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CitationChaput, Wesley Menard. 2020. Democratic Apathy: Exploring the Roots of Millennial Democratic Fatigue. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractDemocratic fatigue is the extent to which citizens of a democracy are disconnecting or disengaging from democratic participation or practice. The Pew Research Center currently defines millennials (also known as Generation Y or Gen Y) as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. This paper seeks to establish the fact of, and then explore the potential causes of, millennial democratic fatigue in the United States of America. Additionally, this paper highlights a gap in the academic literature connecting theories of democratization and democratic deconsolidation. The literature on democratization is vast and has theoretical roots that date back to the first decades of the nineteenth century. A multitude of subsequent scholars have built upon this foundation. The literature on democratic deconsolidation is nascent and less well-developed. This paper seeks to bridge the gap between these two bodies of work by deriving testable hypotheses from the literature on democratization and then employing process tracing in order to ascertain the potential causes of millennial democratic fatigue in the United States.
I find that there is some evidence to suggest that economic stagnation as a result of the Great Recession, increased political dysfunction as characterized by polarization and rising rates of lack of trust in government, and significant generational changes in cultural norms, are all playing a role in explaining the existence of millennial democratic fatigue. This paper finds that further research in each of these areas is warranted in order to ascertain the degree to which millennials are disengaging with traditional forms of democratic participation and the degree to which they are growing increasingly open to regime types other than democracy.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364872