Why don’t more people participate in politics? Some theorists believe that most people simply do not want to be bothered. If professional politicians can handle the decisions, the thinking goes, why would ordinary people want to be involved?
However, contrary to that thinking, a 2009 study by the Harvard Kennedy School entitled “Who Wants to Deliberate – and Why
” found that people have a much higher willingness to participate in political deliberation than commonly thought. While feelings of frustration, disempowerment, and disillusionment often hamper public participation in the present political model, the study found that current patterns of participation may change given more attractive options. Furthermore, people who historically are not as likely to participate in traditional partisan politics (younger people, racial minorities, and people in lower income brackets for instance) show increased interest in engaging in politics when presented with alternative models of deliberation and participation.
Stephen Speakman is a graduate of the Community Academy and volunteers with CDF.
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