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Teenager and politics : a study of political attitudes Daneshazad, Ali

Abstract

The empirical study leading to the present work has been an attempt in understanding the political attitudes of one hundred and thirty teenagers attending a lower-to-middle class high school in Vancouver, Canada. The data was collected by means of a self-administered questionnaire, coded, and analyzed by computer. Findings indicate that teenagers' political culture is predominantly a participant political culture which, also, has preserved the elements of subject political culture. The majority of teenagers are, on the one hand, most proud of Canadians' peace-seeking, neutrality, open-mindedness, and such political concepts as freedom, independence, and democracy. On the other hand, they are least proud of scandals in the government, national leadership crisis, the U.S. influence, prejudice against Eskimos and Indians, and disputes between the English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. While most of the teenagers are concerned about depression, Canada's weakness in world affairs, and the problem of remaining neutral in the Vietnam war, their socio-economic status strongly affects their perception. Majority of teenagers view the government favorably, and only ten percent of them have a pessimistic view of the government. Teenage girls seem to have relatively less faith in the government than boys. Political alienation exists to some extent among teenagers; it is more evident among girls, and has negative correlation with parental socio-economic status. Teenage girls show more faith in people than teenage boys. And, generally speaking, faith in people increases with parental education. Sex, SES, grade average, and inter-personal relationships within the family have significant effects on teenagers’ feeling of competence vis-a-vis the political system. Teenagers of both sexes perceive themselves as a group, and some signs of alienation from the adults' world are observable. Moderate conservatism is a predominant feature among teenagers--it is more predominant among girls, younger teenagers, and those whose fathers have clerical occupations. Our data indicates that authoritarian beliefs are not very uncommon among teenagers, especially among teenage girls. Authoritarianism has negative correlation with teenagers' faith in people. Majority of teenagers have a moderate interest in politics--boys, and those with higher SES being more interested. Teenagers are not characterized by a high level of political information. Boys seem to be more interested in international affairs, while girls are more concerned with local affairs and their immediate environment. While a very small number of teenagers give parental influence as the reason for favoring one political party or another, indeed, the majority of them follow the parental party preferences. Those who rebel against the parental party preferences, mainly move to the left of their parents. And, finally, teenage girls are more person-oriented in their choice of political parties than teenage boys. Most of the findings are parallel to those about the adults and this makes us believe that teenagers' political subculture is strongly influenced by the adult political culture.

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