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Political Participation
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Political Participation
Political participation is the ways in which we as students can participate in our political system. According to the online Webster’s Dictionary “political participation is the active engagement by individuals and groups with the governmental processes that affect their lives.” Political participation is an important part of our society in many ways because it directly affects our lives and the ways in which we are able to live them. Political participation allows people to support and elect leaders that they feel will do the best job running their country. Political participation is a process which we as Nigerian should become more involved in because it is what is going to truly determine the way in which our future and current generations will function. We would like to discuss the two types of political participation that are commonly used when participating politically and the three perspectives of political participation which help form the ways in which we participate. As explained by Shawn Paulin
In the political system there are two forms of political participation that we as Nigerian can participate in. The first form is the conventional form of political participation because it is the most common form in which we participate in. According to ASIS.org “conventional form of communications consists of Voting, letter writing, contact with representatives, working on campaigns, and campaign contributions.” Conventional political participation is also important because if no one participates in our political system then it can “cause instability and complete system failure.”(Gregson 1997)
The next form of political participation is the unconventional way in which people participate. Unconventional forms of communication consist of marching, demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, and the use of violence. These “Unconventional activities might be legal but are not considered appropriate, such as participating in a protest march. Illegal unconventional means of participation include burning draft cards, bombing government buildings, and repressing other people's participation.” (Gregson 1997) Although this form of political participation is not as effective as the conventional form is, many people still choose to use this unconventional method to express their views and opinions. “Both conventional and unconventional forms of political participation can be limited by the economic and social needs of the participants and this often times dictates the amount for political participation that Nigerian participates in.” Whether Nigerian participates conventionally or unconventionally in our political system is determined by their needs and social ideals. Political participation is important to our society and can determine the future of Nigerian as a whole.
Shawn Paulin talks about three dimensions of political participation. Three dimensions of political participation and the reasons why these perspectives are important. The first perspective of political participation is the democratic elitism model. According to the journal article State and Society: Political Participation “Democratic elitists are primarily concerned with the problem of sustaining political stability; democracy is of secondary importance. They argue that enlightened leadership, sanctioned by minimal acts of participation by the masses, is the best way to maintain order.” (Richards 2009) This theory argues that limited participation in our political system is better for the system overall because many people in current day society are ignorant of ideas and simply do not possess the knowledge that is required to be a political participant. This point of political participation says that we should not allow these uneducated people to taint our political system with their uneducated contributions.
The next perspective of political participation is the rational choice theory. According to the journal article ‘State and Society’. Political Participation “rational choice theorists believe that a lack of willingness to participate by the majority is a sign not of their ignorance, but of their rationality.”(Richards 2009) This theory is based on the wants and needs of people and if you have no interest in participating politically, then they should not participate at all. Participation in this theory is based on the want for change in our political system. If they do not want to participate or they do not hold any interest in politics, then it is better for them not to participate at all. When we politically participate, we are doing so to make a change in our lives and our political system. If people vote blindly and do not research before they vote, they are not only wasting our time but our money as well. One should only participate politically if you understand what you are talking about and feel the need to make a change.
The third and final perspective of political participation is the Participatory theories of democracy. “In contrast to these two other theories, participatory theories see political involvement as developmental: participation is more than a method of governing; it serves the wider purposes of cementing civil society together, and educating citizens in the art of governance.” (Richards 2009) This theory helps to educate citizens on how the government functions and the ways in which people can make an impact on political system. Because if people are not educated on how to participate politically in democracy then they will make uneducated decisions and weaken our political system. There are many ways in which this policy helps our society as a whole and it is the first theory that should be examined before participating politically. This theory helps to “strengthening local government, and extending democratic practice into the institutions of civil society, as well as increasing opportunities for the use of national referendums and citizen-led policy initiatives.” (Richards 2009) Overall these perspectives not only help our political system as a whole but it also provides citizens with the proper ideas and political competence to cast a strong vote for what they believe in.
In conclusion both the ways in which we politically participate in our political system and the political models that we use to do so, the most important factors to consider before politically participating in our democracy. If you can understand these dimensions of political participation then it will allow us not only to participate in politics but will allow us as citizens to truly make a difference.
Work Cited
Greene, Jay. "High School Graduation Rates in the United States." Civic Report. Apr. 2002. Web. 15 Sept. 2009. .
Gregson, Kimberly. "Community Networks and Political Participation: Developing Goals for System Developers." ASIS. 14 May 1997. Web. 15 Sept. 2009. .
Hollihan, Thomas A. Uncivil Wars: politcal Campaigns in the Media Age. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St.Martins, 2009. Print.
“Political Participation." www.UKY.edu. 12 Feb. 2005. Web. 15 Sept. 2009.
Richards, Greg "State and Society: Political Participation." www.Geocities.com. Web. 15 Sept. 2009.

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