Year 11 students’ perceptions of political institutions, political decision-making and political personalities: How do young New Zealanders participate in political processes?
Rack, J. (2016). Year 11 students’ perceptions of political institutions, political decision-making and political personalities: How do young New Zealanders participate in political processes? (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10525
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10525
Thirty-seven percent of young, eligible New Zealanders, aged 18 - 24, did not vote in the General Election of 2014, which is a population of 126,065 people (Electoral Commission, 2014a). While New Zealand is still amongst countries with the highest voting rates, it also has the eighth steepest decline in turnout rate out of 22 advanced democracies (Vowles, 2012). These statistics suggest that current methods to involve and entice formal political participation, like voting, seem to fail. From my experience as a secondary school Social Studies teacher, a narrow definition of what constitutes political participation and an incomplete understanding of how young people perceive political institutions and decision-making processes, could be a reason for this perception of the politically disengaged young New Zealander (Arsenau, 2014; Catt, 2005; Liddle, 2013; McCulloch, 2014). This thesis analyses and presents current literature and philosophical theories around the political participation of young people, and political literacy education in the Social Sciences learning area of the New Zealand curriculum (Ministry of Education [NZC], 2007). The thesis also includes results from research I have conducted which focuses on young people aged below the voting age of 18 (Year 11), and their perceptions of political institutions, political decision making processes and political personalities. Through the use of a mixed methods approach (student questionnaires, semi-structured qualitative interviews with Social Sciences teachers, student focus group conversations), this research endeavours to describe how young New Zealanders aged 14 to 16 perceive and participate in political processes. The information gathered through these methods, is analysed, interpreted and used to provide guidance for political literacy education in the Social Sciences learning area of the New Zealand Curriculum.
University of Waikato
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