Friday, May 15, 2009

Down Under Citizenship

In politics, participation and knowledge are intertwined. One leads to the other, feeds the other, creates what some call a virtuous circle.

According to this report, not everyone -- in this case young Australians -- are all that excited about voting (the ultimate participatory act).

Here's the first two graphs:
Australian youth are showing extreme apathy towards their right to vote, with 20 per cent not enrolled to vote, and close to half saying they wouldn't vote if it wasn't compulsory, new University of Sydney research shows.

However the research found that if your kids attend a private school, study politics or civics, and engage with their school community, then they're more likely to vote come election time.

Specifically on media and political communication:
The study also looked at where young people gain their knowledge of Australian politics. Over the past two decades, the number of young people relying on the media for information has declined, with students favouring advice from parents and teachers. In spite of this, the study found newspapers' reputations remain strong, declaring them, "the most effective source of political knowledge."

We are certainly seeing a massive shift in where people get their news, especially young people. They get it from friends, they get it from Facebook postings, they read a tweet or two from Twitter, they scan headlines and they, sometimes, actually read. Print is superior. There's no doubt. But depth reading of print is going down, which is too bad.

Anyway, interesting that we're seeing many of the same changes regardless of the nation studied. Not sure that's comforting, but it is interesting.

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