Politics shape every society and it is tasked with the responsibilities of ensuring that development projects are achieved through the work of elected leaders. Such leaders come up with policies, which are required to run various functions in society. However, despite its importance, recent years have seen a rapid decline in the public interest in politics. This can be seen with the decline in voter turnout during elections. A more alarming decline is noted with the younger age cohorts. Additionally, there have been varying arguments as to why this group has lost interest in political processes, and some assert that the members lack the democratic engagement and commitment required. This finding has been reached on the basis that in most of the western countries, the younger age cohorts have a less likelihood of voting in an election. Other scholars have cited this situation to be as a result of the negative impacts that are brought about by institutional arrangements.
Furthermore, the requirements for voter registration and the lack of proper debates based on ideologies have compounded this problem. However, over the years, age and partisanship have always positively correlated, but the slope of the relationship between these two variables has grown steep over the years as more young people have abandoned politics. With most of the scholars attributing this to a lack of interest in politics by the youths, others have sharply disagreed with these assertions and argued that the members of this group had adopted other informal ways of participating in politics, which include wearing political colors, logos, and signs, attending political rallies and signing petitions. These are some of the ideas that the modern class of youth uses to engage in politics. A survey done by the World Value has shown that this age group is more adherent to democratic norms and is tolerant to those that have a different view from them.
Most of the current literature have argued that the study of the youth has more relevance in the field of political science in general. Social changes such as globalization, individualization, and secularization are seen as factors that influence the political behaviors and attitudes of the public. However, for the older generation, these factors seem to be controlled given that their political orientations had been shaped several years ago and these orientations appear to be carried for a long time. For the youth, these effects have a significant impact on their lives as they are more developed at their formative ages considering technological advancements. The argument that the future of a nation is pegged on the youth is supported by the fact that this generation is more reactive to new situations than the senior citizens. The older generation considers themselves too old to react to political and social changes that happen around them. Therefore, this supports the argument that the process of change is brought about by generational replacement.
In his work entitled “Political Socialization and the Future of Politics,” Marc Hooghe indicates that once the members of the older generation find out more about the young people’s political orientation, they can easily believe that the youth will rule the future. Besides, Hooghe points out the results of his recent study on voting patterns which found out that, once a behavioral style has been established, for instance, when a young person is eligible to vote and does so in a certain way, they are more likely to maintain this pattern in future elections. Therefore, once this has been established, there is little attention, resources and time needed to support it as compared to a first-time voter who needs more investments to develop a voting pattern. However, other studies have shown that this pattern can be changed later in life with socialization experiences which are considered to have powerful effects. According to Hooghe, renewed research on the orientations of this age group has brought about the study of political socialization. He argues that if the young people hold the future of politics, then it is prudent to study where these age groups obtained their knowledge on politics and how attained such attitudes. In the 1960s, there was an emphasis that socialization was a mechanism used to ensure political stability and, therefore, the Personian paradigm more influenced the political socialization. In this theory, socialization was responsible for stability and could not lead to modernization or social changes.
To study the way political systems are likely to evolve in western countries while examining the youth as the primary variable, several factors need to be considered. One of the most important ones is to understand that there is a clear difference between the youths and the senior citizens. It is also prudent to know whether these differences will persist in determining the political culture of the western countries or not. Studies have, thus, found out that the generalized trust of this age group should be seen as their persistent attitude with high stability levels between adolescents and adults. It was also found that this attitude is shaped at an early age and maintains its stability despite the life cycle and age effects.
From the information above, it is clear that political socialization is a significant factor in the study of political science even though it is not instituted in most of the sections of this study. It is clear that socialization is important in the study of political science and helps in the linkage between disciplines such as psychology and education. Also, it is evident that the review of the reasons and how people come to develop their political practices, skills and orientations have grown to be more pressing over the years and need to be studied. It has also found out that the democratic systems are drastically changing and there are experiences of lower partisanship degrees, voter volatility, an increase in the reliance on electronic and mass media to obtain political information, as well as reduced trust on institutions. Conversely, there are increased flexible and informal types of involvement and engagement which remain questionable on the impacts that they have on the political environment. There are assertions that a new form of democracy is evolving where politicians are challenged to move away from the trustee political model without affecting the nature of leadership. It is also clear that there is a shift to a more contemporary democracy where the views of the citizenry are vital in the political process. Therefore, to find out what the contours of this new democracy hold, one will need to examine the things that go on in youth institutions, schools, and other areas which are controlled by the young generation. By doing this, one will find out the potential of the recent democratization.