Is Political Apathy Rooted in Institutional Inefficacy in the U.S.? Summary

My research did not contain many surprises; it just opened a lot of possibilities for further research. I would like to highlight what I learned, why political participation is important, and where I would like to go from here.

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Is Political Apathy Rooted in Institutional Inefficacy in the U.S.? Post #2

The track of my research has deviated slightly as I have continued my research. I feel as though I have opened a can of worms with this project, and the questions I had are not nearly as simple as I had hoped they would be. That’s research, after all.

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Is Political Apathy Rooted in Institutional Inefficacy in the U.S.? Post #1

This summer, I participated in William & Mary’s Study in DC program and interned at a Virginia Congressman’s office on Capitol Hill. I had no idea that I would end up in the heart of politics this summer when I first created my Freshman Monroe Research proposal, and it made for an incredible experience that simultaneously got the gears turning in my head for this research project I was preparing to complete following the congressional internship and DC Summer Institute.

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Abstract: Is Political Apathy Rooted in Institutional Inefficacy in the U.S.?

American political participation, most notably voting, is low compared to many other modern Western states—citizens and pundits alike commonly reference the prevalence of political apathy in the United States. An array of rational-material, ideational, and institutional explanations pinpoint potential causes for low participation. This research project focuses on institutional explanations: how the rules, systems, and organizations in place may induce greater frustration, distrust, and other negative feelings contributing to apathy and inaction. Understanding how American institutions may discourage political engagement can lead to reforming these institutions, which is vital, as a democratic system functions best with a well-informed and engaged citizenry. Many political scientists have conducted research on various institutions’ consequences on citizen behavior, but the results seem scattered; thus, through a literature review, I intend to synthesize previous research on different institutions’ effects—as well as briefly compare it to rational-material and ideational explanations—to achieve a coherence that answers the question: is political apathy rooted in institutional inefficacy in the U.S.? If so, how can we fix it?