THE PERCEPTIONS OF MALAY STUDENTS
TOWARDS ELECTION IN MALAYSIA: A SURVEY OF KIRKHS IIUM STUDENTS
SYAFADZILAH AB. WAHAB
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master in Political Science
Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences
International Islamic University Malaysia
As many of the youth in Malaysia have refused to register as voters, this research is meant to address the major issue in the field of political science regarding the engagement of students in politics, particularly in terms of elections. This research is about to reveal the perceptions of Malay students from the KIRKHS (Kuliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences) of IIUM (International Islamic University Malaysia) towards the election in Malaysia, since there is still a lack of information about the students’ feelings about elections. The focus of the study is on the perceptions of KIRKHS IIUM students in relation to social, political, and religious factors that influenced their ways of looking at elections. This research will answer such research questions as “How do the students of KIRKHS at IIUM perceive elections in Malaysia?” with a theoretical framework of Political Socialization theory as a research guideline. 351 participating students chosen by random sampling will be given a set of questionnaires.
فدهي ةيضق ةلجاعم لىإ ثحبلا اذه
ةمهم ةيسايسلا مولعلا لامج في ت
ب قلعت لما ةكراش ةسايسلا
ل بلاطل ينيعمالجا
، و تاباختنلاا في
،اًديدتح اميس لاو
ًددع نأ ا
يلام في بابشلا نم اوضفر ايز
ليجست مه ينبخان
، و لوايح ثحبلا تاروصت نع فشكلا
لا نم ويلالما بلاط فراعم ةيلك
ةيناسنلإا مولعلاو يحولا في
ايزيلام ةيلماعلا ةيملاسلإا ةعمالجا
؛ نع تاباختنلاا ا
ذإ ؛ةيزيلالم لا
تامولعلما في صقن كانه لازي فقوم نع
ةيلمعلا ن باختنلاا
،ةي بلا زكريو ثح
تاروصت ىلع لا
تيلا ةينيدلاو ةيسايسلاو ةيعامتجلاا لماوعلاب قلعتي اميف
َّثأ تر لىإ مهرظن في تاباختنلاا
، و ثحبلا بييج لا نع
بلاط رظني فيك :لاؤس ةيلك
ةيناسنلإا مولعلاو يحولا فراعم في
تاباختنلاا لىإ ايزيلام ةيلماعلا ةيملاسلإا ةعمالجا ا
دعب ةيسايسلا ةئشنتلا ةيرظنل يرظن راطإ تامولعم عجم في ةنابتسلاا فيظوت للاخ نمو ،
نم ةفلؤم ةيئاوشع ةنيع نم ثحبلا 351
ًكراشم ا ا.
I certify that I have supervised and read this study and that in my opinion, it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Political Science
Khairil Izamin Ahmad Supervisor
Norhaslinda Jamaiudin Co-Supervisor
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Political Science
Muhamad Fuzi Omar Internal Examiner
This thesis was submitted to the Department of Political Science and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Political Science
Rabi’ah binti Aminudin Head, Department of Political Science
This thesis was submitted to the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences and is accepted as a fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Political Science
Shukran Abd. Rahman Dean, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences
I hereby declare that this dissertation is the result of my own investigations, except where otherwise stated. I also declare that it has not been previously or concurrently submitted as a whole for any other degrees at IIUM or other institutions.
Syafadzilah Ab. Wahab
Signature ... Date ...
INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
DECLARATION OF COPYRIGHT AND AFFIRMATION OF FAIR USE OF UNPUBLISHED RESEARCH
THE IMPACT OF MOBILE INTERFACE DESIGN ON INFORMATION QUALITY OF M-GOVERNMENT SITES
I declare that the copyright holders of this dissertation are jointly owned by the student and IIUM.
Copyright © 2019 Syafadzilah Ab. Wahab and International Islamic University Malaysia. All rights reserved.
No part of this unpublished research may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder except as provided below
1. Any material contained in or derived from this unpublished research may be used by others in their writing with due acknowledgement.
2. IIUM or its library will have the right to make and transmit copies (print or electronic) for institutional and academic purposes.
3. The IIUM library will have the right to make, store in a retrieved system and supply copies of this unpublished research if requested by other universities and research libraries.
By signing this form, I acknowledged that I have read and understand the IIUM Intellectual Property Right and Commercialization policy.
Affirmed by Syafadzilah Ab. Wahab
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful. All praises only due to Allah Who has guided me throughout the journey. Without Him, I would not even be here. A special appreciation to my supervisor, Assistant Prof. Dr. Khairil Izamin bin Ahmad who had definitely put endless effort and support in realising this thesis. Same goes to my co-supervisor, Assistant Prof. Dr. Norhaslinda Jamauidin who taught me on research methodology and data analysis.
My acknowledgement also goes to the people of Political Science Department for all co-operations. Not forgotten my lecturers of Political Science who had taught me valuable knowledge as well as my Political Science colleagues who crossed the same path with me, especially Najwa.
More importantly, my deepest gratitude goes to my beloved husband Muhammad Ikhlas and my little son Isa, for providing me moral support and motivation for me to write this thesis successfully. Last but not least is of course my beloved parents for being my pillar of strength throughout my study. Also many thanks to my sister, brother in-law, and my nephews.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract in Arabic………....iii
List of Tables……….…...x
List of Figures………...…………xi
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION………...1
1.1 Background of the Study……….1
1.2 Statement of the Problem………...4
1.3 Significance of the Study……….7
1.4 Research Questions………..8
1.5 Research Objectives……….9
1.6 Theoretical Framework………9
1.6.1 Political Socialization Theory………10
1.6.2 Agents of Political Socialization……….…………...11
1.9 Chapter Summary………...18
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW………19
2.2 The Perceptions of Global Youth towards Election………...19
2.3 The Perceptions of Malaysian Youth towards Election………..22
2.4 Social Media Factor………23
2.5 Religious Factor………..25
2.6 Political Factor………29
2.7 Social Circle Factor……….32
2.8 Research Gaps………..…...34
2.9 Chapter Summary………...………35
CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY………36
3.2 Research Design……….36
3.3 Unit of Analysis………..36
3.4 Population and Sampling………37
3.5 Data Collection………...38
3.5.1 Primary Data……….38
3.5.2 Primary Available Data………40
3.5.3 Secondary Data……….40
3.6 Data Analysis………..40
3.8 Chapter Summary………...43
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF RESULTS………44
4.2 Demographic Information of the Respondents at KIRKHS IIUM……….44
4.3 Construct 1: Perceptions of Students towards Election………..46
4.4Construct 2: Political Factor………...49
4.5 Construct 3: Social Media Factor………...51
4.6 Construct 4: Religious Factor……….54
4.7 Construct 5: Social Circle Factor………56
4.8 The Comparison of Computed Variables………59
4.9 Correlations (Hypothesis Test)………60
4.10 Chapter Summary……….62
CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION………..63
5.2 The Association between Political, Religious, Social Media and Social Circle Factors with Students’ Perceptions towards Election……….63
5.3 Implications and Conclusion………..64
5.4 Limitations of the Study……….65
APPENDIX A: THE QUESTIONNAIRE………75
LIST OF TABLES
Table No. Page No.
3.1 The Response Rate by Survey Mode 38
3.2 Cronbach’s Alpha Values 41
4.1 Demographic Information of the Respondents at KIRKHS IIUM 44
4.2 Construct 1 Result 46
4.3 Construct 2 Result 49
4.4 Construct 3 Result 51
4.5 Construct 4 Result 54
4.6 Construct 5 Result 56
4.7 The Comparison of Computed Variables 59
4.8 The Comparison of Pearson Correlation of Computed Variables 60
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure No. Page No.
1.1 Greinstein Model 12
1.2 The Theretiocal Framework of the Research 16
3.1 Sekaran’s Sample Size for a Population 37
4.1 Construct 1: Perceptions on Election Bar Chart 46
4.2 Construct 2: Political Factor Bar Chart 49
4.3 Construct 3: Social Media Factor Bar Chart 52
4.4 Construct 4: Religious Factor Bar Chart 54
4.5 Construct 5: Social Circle Factor Bar Chart 56 4.6 Mean Comparison of Computed Variables Bar Chart 59 4.7 The Comparison of Pearson Correlation of Computed Variables Bar
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Whenever democracy is discussed, elections, or the act of voting, must be affiliated because these two concepts are inseparable. ‘Democracy’ originated from the Greek and literally means ‘rule by the people’, while in its modern sense, it describes a system of representative government by which the representatives are chosen by voters through elections.1 For the past last generations, there has been increasing support and interest in citizens’ trust in democratic institutions in North America and Western Europe.2 Ironically, in recent years, there has been ample evidence showing a decline in trust in politicians, political parties and central democratic institutions. “This has elevated policymaker apprehensions about democratic legitimacy and its effects on public participation in democratic elections especially in relation to elections for municipalities.”3
While so many countries are surged with electoral reforms, the opposing resistance definitely exists. There are a lot of reasons why this phenomenon is happening. “Elections around the world are often flawed by ballot box fraud, intimidation in polling places, and media coverage skewed towards the ruling party.
Malpractices in contentious elections damage free and fair party competition, depress
1 Anthony Harold Birch, The Concepts and Theories of Modern Democracy, Second ed. (London:
Routledge, 2007), 72.
2 “A Vote of Confidence: Election Satisfaction Survey (ESS) 2016," The Electoral Commission (IEC), September 7, 2016, accessed April 5, 2018.
civic engagement, and erode faith in democratic procedures.”4 The youths especially are losing trust in the electoral system, partially or altogether, while some are still being supportive of the system. Hence, views and opinions of the youths towards the concept of election itself is highly significant in painting the political future of the world. Some might look at election as an opportunity, while some might look at it as a stage of manipulation. According to William Nelson, who is a political scientist, voting is the only way to reveal ‘the will of the people’ in a democracy.5 Notwithstanding this, William Riker argues that the results of voting do not always represent the real preferences of each individual who partakes in the election.6 In a research study done by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, interest in politics appears to be lowest among young people in Latin America and highest among those in Africa. Another fact is that the higher educated young people appear to express lower levels of confidence in political institutions, even though they believe in democracy.7
According to a survey on ‘Youth Perceptions of Elections and Good Governance’ in the Philippines, which was conducted by Communication Foundation for Asia, 75 percent of the respondents, which are youths from all over the country, did not vote in the last election.8 Meanwhile, in Canada, a survey was conducted to examine the voters’ attitudes towards election, with the results being negative, especially to the
4 Pippa Noris et al., "The Year in Elections, 2015: The Expert Survey on Perceptions of Electoral Integrity," The Electoral Integrity Project, February 2016, accessed April 6, 2018,
https://sites.google.com/site/electoralintegrityproject4/projects/ex pert-survey-2/the-year-in-elections- 2015, 10.
5 Julie Mostov, Power, Process, and Popular Sovereignty (Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 1992), 93.
7 Yekaterina Chzhen, "Young People’s Political Attitudes: A Cross-national Comparison of Public Opinion Surveys," United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2012, accessed April 5, 2018, https://www.academia.edu/2058581/Young_people_s_political_attitudes_A_cross- national_comparison_of_public_opinion_surveys, 1.
8 Survey on Youth Perceptions of Elections and Good Governance, report, Communication Foundation for Asia, 6.
“performance of the politicians and political institutions involved in federal politics.”9
“Young people’s relationship with contemporary politics is complex and often problematized. They are often chastised as the apolitical harbingers of an incipient
‘crisis of democracy’ while simultaneously heralded as the authors of sophisticated new forms of politics, most notably within electronic realms.”10 As far as the youth voters’
turnout is concerned, it has become a prime discussion in every nation in the world nowadays. Be it in Canada, Australia, Bangladesh, Philippines, or Malaysia, the political scenario of the young citizens are quite similar: they are less likely to participate in direct politics in their life, including voting in general and local elections.
According to Malaysia Election Commission data, 41 percent of registered voters are between the ages of 21 and 39 as of the end of 2017.11 In comparison with the 2013 election, which showed 30 percent of voters aged 21 to 39, the 2018 election observed an increasing number to 40 percent. What about eligible voters who did not register? 67 percent of 3.8 million eligible voters who did not register are young citizens between the ages of 21 to 30.12 As far as Malaysia is concerned, the definition of ‘youth’
as defined in the 1997 National Youth Development Policy, youth ranges between the ages of 15 and 40.13 However, youth between the ages of 18-25 is given more focused in terms of youth development programs and activities. In Malaysia specifically,
9 John H. Pammett and Lawrence LeDuc, Explaining the Turnout Decline in Canadian Federal Elections: A New Survey of Non-voters, report, Elections Canada (2003), 2. `
10 Rys Farthing, "The Politics of Youthful Antipolitics: Representing the ‘issue’ of Youth Participation in Politics," Journal of Youth Studies 13, no. 2 (February 25, 2010): accessed April 11, 2018, doi:
11 Mayuri Mei Lin, "Malaysia's Youth Have Power They Won't Use," BBC News, May 05, 2018, accessed August 15, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43985834.
13 "Malaysia | Factsheets," Factsheets Youthpolicyorg, , accessed August 15, 2018, http://www.youthpolicy.org/factsheets/country/malaysia/.
dissatisfaction with the electoral system undoubtedly exists, especially among opposition parties and their supporters.14
In a study done by Wan Mohd Nor and Harun, it is evident that the young people in Malaysia still have less confidence in democratic procedure and electoral institutions in Malaysia.15 This shows that the youth in Malaysia are less interested in politics. It is also worth stating that “the chairman of the Election Commission has said that the level of new voter registration among the younger generation was not satisfactory,” as reported by Ramli in the New Straits Times. This signifies that the quality of a healthy democracy in Malaysia is still low as reflected in the quality of public participation in the electoral process. Why many young citizens refused to partake in the electoral process is a crucial question to pose and there are always reasons behind their actions, be it social or political factors. Thus, the researcher is taking this opportunity to apprehend the students’ thoughts towards election and discover new findings so that any improvements in the political life of the students can be enhanced.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Prior to the 2018 General Election, an ample number of surveys had been done on young citizens of Malaysia which showed their dissatisfaction with current politics. According to the Merdeka Centre poll, 70 percent of Malaysian youth do not believe that their vote will bring about tangible changes in the government, nor do they think that their elected representatives really care about people like them.16 They also think that politicians are
14 Lim Hong Hai, "Electoral Politics in Malaysia: ‘Managing’ Elections in a Plural Society," Electoral Politics in Southeast and East Asia: accessed April 5, 2018, 142.
15 Wan Asna Wan Mohd Nor, and Zainon Harun, "Political Attitudes and Voting Behaviour,"
International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences (IJHMS) 11 (2013): 12, 127.
16 Mayuri Mei Lin, "Malaysia's Youth Have Power They Won't Use," BBC News, May 05, 2018, accessed August 15, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-43985834.
not trustworthy according to 66 percent of the respondents.17 A young citizen, Ms.
Asmaliza said "I don't see any candidate that represents my beliefs about environmentalism, urban poverty, socio-economic issues, those kinds of things."18 While Leonie Leong, 27, said that she was keen to vote but registered too late for this election, admitting that registering was never high up on her to-do list. “I know it's bad to think this way, that my vote won't count for anything other than the popular vote and the popular vote doesn't win anything.”19 In Malaysian Digest, it was reported that the youths think their vote does not count and politics is not relevant in their lives.20 The fact that there are there are about four million Malaysians who still have not registered as voters is worrying. Most of the eligible but unregistered voters are Malaysians in the 21 to 30 age group, as stated by Navaratnam, the chairman of Asli Centre for Public Policy.21
On the other hand, a study conducted by the EC and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia before Election 2013 proved that they lack interest in politics, adding that some said they had no time and appeared indifferent to their responsibility to vote.22 This shows that the youths in Malaysia are less interested in politics. It is also worth stating that the chairman of the Election Commission has said that the level of new voter registration among the younger generation was not satisfactory, as reported by Ramli in
20 "Not Happy With the Current Political Scene? Register as Voters Now and Be the Change,"
Malaysian Digest, October 5, 2016, accessed May 15, 2017,
21 Ramon Navaratnam, "EC can do more to register eligible voters," Free Malaysia Today, March 2, 2017, accessed May 15, 2017, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2017/03/02/ec-can- do-more-to-register-eligible-voters/.
22 "Vote rather than protest, EC tells 4 million unregistered youths," Malay Mail Online, October 19, 2015, accessed May 15, 2017, http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/vote-rather-than- protest-ec-tells-4-million-unregistered-youths.
New Straits Times.23 This signifies that the quality of a healthy democracy in Malaysia is still low as reflected in the quality of public participation in the electoral process.24 Meanwhile, the National Youth Survey by the Asia Foundation indicated that the political thinking of the youths in Malaysia is not static but has changed accordingly.25 Most of the Malaysian youth are fence-sitters; they are considered independent minded and their political loyalties are not fixed, as Pandian found in his study. 26
Yet, youth is an important group in the country and they are vital to the future of the society and the state.27 Hence, by looking at surveys and studies, the current phenomenon of Malaysian youth is alarming, since youth as we know it is the backbone of a country and hold the undertaking future. According to Datuk Fuad Hassan, Director General of the Department of Special Affairs (JASA), “youth is the most important assets of the Government and the opposition, particularly in the General election, winning the 13th because this group accounted for 77.9 percent of registered voters.”28 It is worth noting that JASA was already dissolved as a subsequent of a newly formed government under Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after 14th General Election.29 The statement by Datuk Fuad suggests that it is necessary to look at the perceptions of the
23 Alyaa Azhar, "'Social Media Crucial in Election Campaign'," Free Malaysia Today, April 19, 2013, accessed March 25, 2018, http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/04/19/social- media-crucial-in-election-campaign/.
26 Sivamurugan Pandian, "University Students and Voting Behavior in General Elections: Perceptions on Malaysian Political Parties Leadership," Asian Social Science 10, no. 18 (2014).
27 Mansor Mohd Noor, Azlina Abdullah, and Mohd Mahadee Ismail, "Voting Behaviour in Malaysia:
Locating the Sociological Determinants of Ethnicity, Middle Classes and Development Gains," World Applied Sciences Journal 34, no. 6 (2016), doi:10.5829/idosi.wasj.2016.34.6.15674, 805.
28 Mohd Hafiz Mansor, Abd Rahim Romle, and Siti Nur Illani Abd Hamid, "Facing the Dilemmas on Voting Behavior Amongst Youth in Malaysia Election," Research Journal of Social Sciences 8, no. 5 (2015).
29 Azura Abas, "SPAD, JASA, JKKKP Dissolved," New Straits Time, May 23, 2018, accessed April 01, 2019, https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2018/05/372323/spad-jasa-jkkkp- dissolved.
young generation towards one of the most important democratic institutions, namely election. With the lack of political participation and deteriorating democratic culture among the youth, the electoral behaviour of the youth needs greater attention from researchers worldwide. The youth need to realize their civic duty by engaging in direct politics like elections so that their voices can be heard.
Thus, the researcher is taking this opportunity to apprehend the perceptions of university students, in this case, KIRKHS students at IIUM, because university students mostly belong to that age group. This research will be in a varsity setting since there are few studies on university students, especially on IIUM students. There are ample findings on factors which affect students’ perceptions on election at the macro level, but not on factors which influence those at the micro level. Hence, it is vital to assess students’ perceptions on election, and the researcher will be using survey method. The fact that the researcher chose KIRKHS students to be assessed is because they are educated enough and possess political awareness and knowledge, which makes the finding significant. Last but not least, is that the researcher is personally interested in finding out why the students from the researcher’s kuliyyah perceive particular ways towards election.
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
It is vital to discuss the reality of how the youth view the idea of election as a democratic practice. Although there are many studies conducted on students’ perceptions towards any form of political concepts, like participation in election, there is still a lack of investigations of how the students feel about the election itself. This research will fill in the gap in previous research by being different and unique because it involves humanities-educated university students of IIUM. Another dimension that is lacked in
the local current field of study is that of the religious dimension. There is definitely ample research that has been done on the relationship between Islam and election across the Middle East and Indonesia, but not in Malaysia. This finding will contribute to a new knowledge of students’ understanding in religion. The fact that the researcher will make a survey to only Muslim students will be interesting in terms of observing the religious factor as a variable in explaining their perceptions on the system of election itself.
On the other hand, this research will definitely contribute to the body of knowledge by solving a trending and important issue, which in this case is the perceptions of university students on election. This kind of finding is extremely crucial for the government, opposition, or any organizational bodies that care to spread political awareness to the young generations. The government especially requires this kind of research in order to improvise their policies towards the youth after knowing their perceptions, as well as to devise campaigns to encourage the university students to take part in the electoral process. Additionally, this research can be a guidance and reference for other political science researchers of this area of study in the future. It benefits society as a whole, as well as each individual student, specifically by raising political awareness. The students will come to a realization and consciousness about the electoral system and will have some understanding regarding that matter.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. How do the KIRKHS students at IIUM perceive election in Malaysia?
2. What are the factors that affect the perceptions of KIRKHS students at IIUM towards election in Malaysia?
9 1.5 RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The study aimed to achieve the following objectives:
1. To study the perceptions of KIRKHS IIUM students towards election in Malaysia.
2. To explore the factors that affect the perceptions of KIRKHS students at IIUM towards election in Malaysia.
1.6 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
The researcher will be using political socialization theory framework in order to explain the relationship between the students’ perceptions towards election in Malaysia and the factors that affect their perceptions. As discussed by Niemi and Sobieszek in their journal, the beginning of political socialization work can be traced back to the 1920s and early 1930s by Merriam, as well as Inkeles and Levinson.30 The theory was developing since then until the early 1950 in which the best known Newcomb’s Benmington study about political attitudes. The term “political socialization” was not used explicitly until the publication of Herbert Hyman’s literature synthesis in 1959.
“Empirical studies investigating the ways in which people learned about government and developed their political orientations proliferated from the 1950’s through the 1980s.”31 After that, the study mainly focused on political orientations and behaviors of young children, and it is built upon two assumptions. First, what is learned earliest in life is most important, as early experiences serve as a value basis for future attitudes
30 Richard G. Niemi and Barbara I. Sobieszek, "Political Socialization," Annual Review of Sociology 3 (1977), accessed August 15, 2018, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2945936, 209.
31 Owen Diana, "Political Socialization - Communication - Oxford Bibliographies - Obo," Oxford Bibliographies - Your Best Research Starts Here - Obo, July 18, 2018, , accessed August 15, 2018, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841- 0158.xml.
and behaviors. Second, attitudes and behaviors acquired prior to adulthood remained unchanged in later life.32 Notwithstanding this, later on after that, research showed that political ideas developed during childhood were revised later in life. Political socialization disappeared between the 1970s and 1990s, and re-emerged as salient in the early 2000s.
1.6.1 Political Socialization Theory
Furthermore, political socialization is the process by which political culture is transmitted in a given society. It occurs at both the individual and community level, and extends beyond the acquisition of political culture to encompass the learning of more sophisticated political ideas and orientations. It is a lifelong process, and a variety of individuals and institutions contribute to its shaping effect.33 People acquire their political attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and behaviours through the political socialization process.
Fred I. Greenstein offers a comprehensive definition of the socialization process: “Political learning, formal and informal, deliberate and unplanned, at every stage of the life cycle, including not only explicit political learning, but also nominally non-political learning of politically relevant social attitudes.”34 Political socialization is a process in which citizens learn about political information that keeps on developing as time goes by. Eventually, it will shape “values, political commitments, and political
32 Anja Neundorf and Kaat Smets, "Political Socialization and the Making of Citizens," Oxford Handbooks Online, February 06, 2017, accessed August 15, 2018,
33 Mutiullah A. Olasupo, "The Impact of Political Socialization on 2015 General Election: Reflections on Nigerian State," Journal of Humanities and Social Science 20, no. 7 (July 2015), accessed August 6, 2018, doi: 10.9790/0837-20747783.
34 Owen Diana, "Political Socialization - Communication - Oxford Bibliographies - Obo," Oxford Bibliographies - Your Best Research Starts Here - Obo, July 18, 2018, , accessed August 15, 2018, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841- 0158.xml.
skills, which in turn determine which policies, candidates, and political parties are favoured.”35 In another words, the socialization process is responsible for rendering one’s judgment on political matters. For instance, why do some students participate in elections whereas others do not? Why do some students prefer Islamic parties whereas others do not? How do students develop perceptions towards election in the way they do?
1.6.2 Agents of Political Socialization
Among the concerns that can be studied with political socialization are lack of political interest, modest participation, and low voter turnout of young people.36 According to Greenstein, socialization is a one-way process of how the young people come to an understanding about the political world through their interaction with adults and the media.37 The model he represented is shown in the diagram below:
35 Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz and James G. Gimpel, "Religion and Political Socialization," The Oxford Handbook of Religion and American Politics, August 2009, accessed August 6, 2018,
36 Owen Diana, "Political Socialization - Communication - Oxford Bibliographies - Obo," Oxford Bibliographies - Your Best Research Starts Here - Obo, July 18, 2018, , accessed August 15, 2018, http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199756841/obo-9780199756841- 0158.xml.
37 "Political Socialization," American Government and Politics in the Information Age, accessed August 15, 2018, http://open.lib.umn.edu/americangovernment/chapter/6-2-political-socialization/.
Figure 1.1 Greinstein Model
To be specific, there are numerous agents of political socialization, and different scholars have different groupings of agency because many aspects can be considered in shaping one’s political judgment. For instance, “polities convey established patterns of thought and action, laws and norms, and traditions and folkways through agencies, such as the family, educational system, peer groups, mass media, political institutions, community organizations, religious organizations, and the military.”38 Furthermore, family, religion, school, peer groups, and the mass media help shape their sense of civic duty and political self-confidence.39 The family, educational system, peer groups, and
38 Diana Owen, Political Socialization in the Twenty-first Century: Recommendations for Researchers, proceedings of The Future of Civic Education in the 21st Century, Center for Civic Education and the Bundeszentrale Fur Politische Bildung, James Madison’s Montpelier, Virginia.
39 Mutiullah A. Olasupo, "The Impact of Political Socialization on 2015 General Election: Reflections on Nigerian State," Journal of Humanities and Social Science 20, no. 7 (July 2015), accessed August 6, 2018, doi: 10.9790/0837-20747783.
the mass media all play a role. While family and school are important early in life, what our peers think and what we read in the newspaper and see on television have more of an influence on our political attitudes as adults.40 Dawson and Prewitt suggest that agents of socialization constitute parents, teachers, friends, coworkers, military colleagues, church associates, club members, sports-team competitors, and media.41
Family definitely becomes a central role in the socialization process by impacting one’s political participation by discussion at home, for example. Another example would be that parents who take an active role in politics and vote in every election often influence their children to do the same.42 Parental religious participation is the most influential part of religious socialization–more so than religious peers or religious beliefs.43 For instance, someone always listens to religious sermons which his or her family attend and eventually may shape his or her perceptions towards everything, including elections. Some believe religion is an ethnic or cultural category, which then makes it even more difficult for someone to break from religious affiliations and be more socialized in this setting. This somehow reflects the situation in Malaysia, especially within the Malay Muslim communities. Apart from that, peers in terms of occupation are exerting an influence on how its members think politically.44 The same thing goes with college peers, where they can discuss politics in classrooms as well as with lecturers. Faculty and student exchanges can form, reinforce, or change evaluations of politics and government.45 “Young people can be socialized to politics through dinner
40 "Political Socialization," Sandra Cisneros Biography, accessed August 15, 2018,
43 "Religion: Agency of Socialization," Assignment Point, March 01, 2018, accessed August 16, 2018, http://www.assignmentpoint.com/arts/sociology/religion-agency-socialization.html.
44 "Political Socialization," Sandra Cisneros Biography, accessed August 15, 2018,
45 "Political Socialization," American Government and Politics in the Information Age, accessed August 15, 2018, http://open.lib.umn.edu/americangovernment/chapter/6-2-political-socialization/.