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Extra info for Action Philosophers! 06 - The People_s Choice - June 2006
In 1994, when we carried out our first survey of 12 to 19 year olds, 38 per cent had at least some interest in politics; now only 31 per cent do so. And, while in 1994, just over a quarter said they had no interest in politics at all, this now applies to over a third of young people. 1 Political interest, 12–19 year olds (1994-2003) and adults (2003) 12–19 year olds Age 18+ 1994 1998 2003 2003 % % % % A great deal/ quite a lot of interest Some interest Not very much interest None at all 12 26 32 27 10 24 32 34 8 23 32 36 30 33 25 13 Base 580 474 663 4432 Questions about political interest have been asked on the British Social Attitudes survey of adults since the mid-1980s, allowing us to set these findings in a wider context.
There appears to be a fairly consistent pattern of answers. In all cases, the government is seen as bearing the major responsibility – in fact, only when it comes to provision in retirement does support for government responsibility fall below four-fifths. It is interesting to note that most of those who advocate nonstate responsibility in this area suggest that individuals or families should shoulder this burden, and just one in ten advocate employer responsibility (presumably through occupational pensions although it is difficult to know exactly how respondents interpreted this answer option).
1 can be found in the appendix to this chapter. The most noteworthy finding to emerge here is the important role that parental political interest (which we can see as a reflection of the likely political stimulation that young people receive at home) now appears to play in shaping their engagement with politics. Those whose parents are interested in politics are both more likely to be interested in it themselves, and to have formed an attachment to a particular political party. In 1994, whether or not a young person’s parent was interested in politics was not related to their own engagement once other factors were taken into account; now, this relationship is a very important one.