• No results found

Youth Democratic Disengagement in Tunisia Bachelor Thesis


Academic year: 2021

Share "Youth Democratic Disengagement in Tunisia Bachelor Thesis"


Loading.... (view fulltext now)

Full text


Youth Democratic

Disengagement in Tunisia

A quantitative research

Bachelor Thesis



This study aims to investigate why young people in Tunisia participate less in formal and informal politics than older people. First, I compare the participatory pattern of young people in six forms of political participation (voting, party membership, organization membership, campaign activity, protesting and attending meetings/signing petitions) to older Tunisians, with merged data from the Arab Barometers five waves (2012-2019). The data shows that young people indeed participate less than the older. To find out why, I rely on socio-economic, political-psychological and socialization theories. I examine the research problem through a logistic regression model with data from the Arab Barometers fourth wave (2016-2017), which

considers key explanatory variables from the socioeconomic, political-psychological and socialization theories. The results show that the biggest obstacle for young people to participate in politics is their lack of

socioeconomic resources. Furthermore, access to information through education, political news and social media seem to be the most substantial variables to stimulate political participation among young people in Tunisia.

Key words




Table of contents

1 Introduction 6

1.1. Research problem 7

2 Theoretical Framework 8

2.1. Socio-economic factors and the disengagement of young people. 9

2.2 Political- Psychological Theories 12

2.2.1. Trust in institutions 12

2.2.2. Political efficacy 15

2.3 Socialization 19

3. Methods and Research Design 21

3.1. Data 21

3.2 Dependent variable - political participation 22

3.3 Main independent variable - young people 24

3.4 Control variables 25

3.4.1 Socioeconomic indicators 25

3.4.2 Trust 26

3.4.3 Socialization 26

3.4.4 Political efficacy 27

4. Results and Interpretation 28

4.1 Voting 30

4.2 Campaign activity 30

4.3 Organization membership 31

4.4 Party membership 31

4.5 Attend meetings/ Sign petition 32

4.6 Protest march sit in 32

4.7 Interpretation 33

5. Conclusion 36


1 Introduction

On January 14, 2011, after almost 50 years of one-party rule, the streets of Tunisia were filled with people (i.e. mostly young people) protesting the current dictator Ben Ali. This event set a series of revolutions in motion across the MENA-region (Middle East & North Africa), especially in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain. However, Tunisia was the only country to emerge from the revolution with a new political system, a democratic one, and is currently on its way to becoming a consolidated democracy (see, Jemail, 2015).

Civil society and other types of organized activism by young people played a crucial role in the revolution and later in the democratization (Deane, 2013). Even though the Arab Spring was mass-based, it was pioneered by youths. Several factors motivated young people to revolt: low wages, high unemployment, corruption, and other forms of socioeconomic inequalities. Although one might argue that the Arab Spring was motivated by the wish for democracy, still, I argue this should not be taken as entirely true. Prior to the revolution, 7.4 per cent of Tunisia’s population were living under the poverty line, and the yearnings mostly sparked the uprisings for fundamental human rights such as putting food on one's table and gaining secure employment (Joffe, 2013). Also, the global interconnectedness through media had helped people to become aware of these inequalities and gave them possibilities to organize, engage and lead the cause for change.


Tunisians tend to participate less in politics than older Tunisians. The fact that young people who helped spark the revolution that led to the ousting of the then-dictator Ben Ali are now more reluctant to engage in politics is indeed a worrying sign for the prospect of democracy in Tunisia. Given that a healthy democracy requires the active involvement of its citizens'

(Dalton, 2000, p. 57) the issue of young people's disengagement in politics, therefore warrant investigation. Thus, the central objective of this thesis is to understand and provide possible explanations for youth disengagement in politics in Tunisia.

1.1. Research problem

Low democratic engagement among young people is a pattern that has been noticed in many western democracies such as those of Western Europe and the US. There are several studies about the causes of youth political disengagement in consolidated democracies. However, the research on youth disengagement in young and emerging democracies such as Tunisia is less developed or lacking. As I show in Table 1, evaluating the participation pattern of young people in Tunisia across different forms of political activity for a period of 8 years (i.e. 2012 to 2019), young people tend to be more disengaged in formal and informal forms of politics than older people.

Table 1.

Types of political participation Percentages N Voting Young people 27,30% 652 Older people 27,60% 658 Campaign Young people 5,40% 127 Older people 6,80% 161 Org. membership Young people 0,30% 412 Older people 1,00% 777 Party membership Young people 0,30% 4 Older people 2,30% 27 Meeting/petition Young people 4,00% 412 Older people 7,50% 776 Protest Young people 5,90% 767


Notes: Percentages of age and engagement in different forms of political participation are derived from the Arab Barometer. Time period 2012 to 2019.

Based on Table 1, I argue, for Tunisia to have sustainable democratic development, young people must engage in politics. Tunisia is at a very early stage of its democratic development, so it is crucial to detect warning signs that could undermine democratic development as early as possible. A political system cannot be democratic if all parts of society are not included. To be precise, young people's democratic engagement in Tunisia is even more relevant since they (i.e. young people) consist of almost 30 per cent of Tunisia’s 12 million population. So, when they are disengaged from the political process, it means a substantial majority of the population has little or no voice in influencing decisions that affect them directly or indirectly (Gabsi, 2017). The implication is that it undermines the democratic system and brings political and economic challenges for both the regime and the people within it.

In this thesis, I argue that inclusive participation and political inclusion of young people is crucial from the start. It is a cornerstone in building stable democracies and peaceful societies. Moreover, young people’s active engagement stimulates democratic values and can help with diminishing authoritarian values. Young people need to be encouraged to participate in politics and have a role in formulating tomorrow's politics both for the future of the country but also for themselves. Overall, and as previously mentioned, the core objective of this thesis is to investigate and account for youth disengagement in politics in Tunisia.

2 Theoretical Framework


perspectives, while developing relevant hypotheses to explain why young people in Tunisia are less likely to engage in politics.

2.1. Socio-economic factors and the disengagement of young people.

Beginning with the socioeconomic model or theory, the general expectation in the literature is that individuals with higher education and income are more likely to participate. Verba, Scholzman and Brady (2001) examine how income affects political activities, notably voting, campaign work, giving money to campaigns, protesting, everyday work on a community issue, membership or attendance at local governance board and membership in political organizations. The authors conclude that a higher level of income tends to increase the level of political engagement. Moreover, Verba, Scholzman and Brady argue that resources are the most fundamental needs for one to participate. These resources are time, money and civic skills, and not surprisingly, the data shows that the lower-income and education level one has, the less access they have to these resources (Verba, Scholzman, Brady, 2001).


of its social network building capacity. Those with higher education are more likely to encounter politically influential social networks than the less educated (Nie, Junn, Stehlik-Barry, 1996). In summary, many political scientists claim that a higher socio-economic status provides the resources to participate. Better educated citizens and citizens with a higher income are more likely to have access to money and political information. This theory is so well established that it is sometimes referred to as the standard model of political participation (Dalton, 2008).


factor to increase political participation, even when other socio-economic factors have been considered (Hillygus, 2005).

Understanding formal political processes is not just a problem for non-educated youth, but also for marginalized youth such as minorities, youth living in poverty and unemployed youth as mentioned above. These groups often lack the necessary knowledge about political processes that they require for being politically engaged. When these processes are not fully understood, they are harder to take part in (Ace project, 2020). Young people today are struggling with the consequence of several economic crises and unprepared governments. These conditions make it hard to overcome all the barriers to political participation.

Today it is more challenging than ever for young people to enter the workforce. In countries that lack an effective economic system, like Tunisia, many young people must settle for part-time or informal jobs. Regardless of policy efforts, young people are three part-times less likely to get a job than an adult (World Bank, 1999-2020). Youth unemployment is a big challenge for Tunisia, the unemployment rate has risen from 29.46% in 2010 to 36.26% in 2020, and it is slowly increasing, even though it has seen a slight improvement since 2011. That is a higher unemployment rate than the overall population, which is 15.5% (CIA, 2020).

Young people who are not enrolled in education, employment or training are a large proportion of the capable youth in the country (World Bank, 2020). Therefore, I argue that the socio-economic factors can be possible explanations for youth political disengagement in Tunisia. In line with the foregoing discussion, I hypothesize the following:


2.2 Political- Psychological Theories

Political psychology was first introduced as a field in the late 1960s. The purpose of this field is to combine what we know about human psychology with what we know about human political behaviour. By doing this, we examine just how accoutered citizens are to practice their democratic responsibilities (Sears, Huddy, Jervis, 2003). In this study, I will focus on two aspects of political psychology; trust and political efficacy.

2.2.1. Trust in institutions


transparency (United Nations, 2016). When governments fail to provide transparency, opportunities and support, young people have shown to distrust and question the legitimacy of their governments (Amnå, Ekman, 2013). Putnam claims that for a democratic system to be successful, it must have strong trust among its citizens (Putnam, 1993). Thus, in a democratic system where citizens feel distrustful and alienated from the wider society, it harms their political engagement (Newton, Delhey, 2003). People withdraw from formal politics, and it is often shown in the decline of membership in political organizations and absence from voting in elections (Henn et al., 2005).

Roberto Stefan Foa and Yasha Mounk argue that an indicator of political mistrust amongst youth is their growing anti-democratic values. Mounk finds that young people across the globe are less committed to democracy and that they are losing the belief that it is essential living in a democracy (Foa, Mounk, 2017). Their research from 2011 shows that 24 per cent of America's youth believe democracy to be ‘’bad’’ or ‘’very bad’’, which is a record high. This pattern is not only seen in America, but also other consolidated democracies around the globe, such as Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand. Foa and Mounk argue that young people's growing distrust in political parties, politicians and institutions is shown in their new openness to authoritarian kinds of ruling (Foa, Mounk, 2017). The World Values Survey, in 1981–84 and 1990–93, shows that historically, young people have been more enthusiastic about their democratic values, keener to protect their freedom of speech and less likely to be involved in political radicalism (Foa, Mounk, 2017). Foa and Mounks public opinion survey, however, shows that the roles today are reversed. Young people today are less likely to defend their rights and their freedom of speech than the elder (Foa, Mounk, 2017).


is less likely to participate (Blais, 2007). This decline is concentrated in youth. However, participation in informal politics such as demonstrations, and on the internet remains kind of steady. The problem, then, is not necessarily political apathy amongst youth, but rather lack of trust towards formal political processes. Matt Henn, Mark Weinstein and Dominic Wring surveys about the high youth disengagement in Britain shows that there is a significant lack of trust in politicians. Their study provides an insight into young people's disconnection from formal politics, and the possible reasons. Since their survey revealed that young people, in particular, are sceptical of politicians and political parties willingness to represent their interests, and young people, in particular, shows a lower voter turnout, there seems to be an interesting pattern (Henn et al., 2005).

Arab politics is facing significant challenges today because of the low level of trust in institutions. The Arab Barometer reports that Arab citizens, in general, have high trust in the military and judiciary, but the trust in the government is at its lowest. Data from the Arab Barometer’s fifth wave (2018-2019) shows that only 9 per cent of Tunisians express great trust in political parties. The Tunisian parliament can today be considered a representative parliament, although the trust Tunisian citizens feel towards their parliament is considerably low. It has declined from 31 per cent in 2013 to 14 per cent in 2018. Furthermore, only 20 per cent trust the government compared to 62 per cent in 2011.


unable to improve their economic conditions. Therefore, I argue, that the lack of political trust amongst youth in Tunisia can be an explaining variable to their political disengagement.

Hypothesis 2a. Lack of trust in institutions negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia

2.2.2. Political efficacy

Political efficacy is the psychological aspect of political participation; it is the citizens' confidence that what they do can change the government and that they have the political understanding to do so. Political efficacy has two components, external and internal. External efficacy refers to the belief that political institutions are receptive of one's action. If one lacks external efficacy, they believe that governments are unresponsive to their needs. On the other hand, internal efficacy refers to an individual's perception of their capability to participate in politics. If citizens believe that what they do has or can have an impact on the political process, they are more likely to perform their civic duties (Craig, Maggiotto, 1982). Internal and external efficacy is shown in some countries to have different effects on political behaviour. Internal efficacy tends to be more related to informal political participation such as protesting, signing petitions and membership in organizations (Craig, Maggiotto, 1982). Research shows that citizens with high internal efficacy were more likely to take part in protests, for example. External efficacy, however, tends to be more related to formal politics such as voting and party membership (Craig, Maggiotto, 1982).


government as non-responsive to one's action, that individual will be less likely to try to influence (Almond, Verba, 1989). Thus, external efficacy is also expected to affect an individual's political behaviour. In Russel. J Dalton's study about different predictors for voting turnout, campaign activity, direct contacting and protest activity in the US, Great Britain, France and Germany, he found that political efficacy influenced each category. When it came to voting turnout, political efficacy had a modest impact in each nation. In campaign activity, political efficacy was strongly related. In direct contacting and protest activity, however, the correlation was weaker but still positive (Dalton, 2008). Inspired by Dalton's research, I argue that the same research should be done with Tunisia.


As noted before, the transition from youth to adulthood is a sensitive phase of a person's life. Governments fail to help young people to become acquainted with political life. Matt Henn, Mark Weinstein and Dominic Wring argue that a whole new framework for political participation is needed to overcome the challenges of involving, representing and consulting young people. Naturally, if a group in society does not feel like their action has any real impact, they will not bother to participate (Henn et al., 2005). The EU-report on youth participation, claims that young citizens must be given real opportunities and be integrated into political decision making before their engagement will return. They mean that political interest depends on their opportunities to participate in the system (The European Commission, 2012). As Henn, Weinstein and Wring explain; youth disengagement could be the fault of politically apathetic politicians rather than politically apathetic youth.


earlier, I believe that external efficacy could be a contributory factor in the political disengagement of young Tunisians.

Hypothesis 2b: Lack of external efficacy negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.


self-esteem as a base for political participation (Waltz, 1990). As I have presented so far in this chapter, these things are lacking in Tunisia. Therefore, I argue that internal efficacy also is an essential variable in my analysis.

Hypothesis 2c. Lack of internal efficacy negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.

2.3 Socialization

Political socialization is the process where individuals learn about social patterns and their position in society (Hyman, 1958) This informal learning happens through family, friends and acquaintances, and social media (Merelman, 1986). Socialization theory expects that life experiences create an individual's political attitudes, and therefore their political behaviour. The political socialization process starts early, and there are several mechanisms through which children learn about these social patterns. As mentioned above, children can learn directly or indirectly through family, friends, acquaintances or other types of socializing agents such as media and social media (Neundorf, Smets 2017).


The family has a determinant influence as socialization agents (Neundorf, Smets 2017). Scholars have identified two ways that parents influence their children's political values. First, parents play a significant role in constructing their children's political awareness. Parents who are politically aware themselves, are seen to pass this awareness on to their children, and this awareness turns into political engagement (Jennings, Stoker, Bowers, 2009). Having politicized parents as role models might stimulate children's engagement since they tend to imitate their parent’s political behaviour (Dryer, 1998). Dryer 1998. The family's socioeconomic status also contributes to children's political socialization. The parent’s socio-economic status can guide children's political orientation (Verba, Scholzman, Burns, 2005). The second agent of socialization is school. The influence of school is an essential factor in the research of political engagement. Education serves as an institution that teaches political knowledge. The curriculum is said to influence students' attitudes. The agent here then is the classes that students take to learn about their role as citizens. The climate of the classroom is also considered to be an active socialization agent; if students feel like they can express their opinions and their opinions are respected, they are more likely to become politically engaged later in life.


Hypothesis 3a. Social media use positively affects political participation among young people in Tunisia.

Hypothesis 3b. Consumption of political news through media positively affects political participation among young people in Tunisia.

3. Methods and Research Design

3.1. Data

To investigate why young people in Tunisia are less likely to participate in formal and

informal politics, I use recent data from the Arab Barometer survey. The Arab Barometer is

the largest, non-partisan, public research network in the Middle East and North Africa. They

conduct public opinion surveys that give an insight into the social, political and economic

attitudes and values among citizens in MENA and have done so since 2006. Their surveys

consist of probability samples, with around 2,400 respondents in each country. The

respondents are 18 and above and from both urban and rural areas. The countries included in

their research are Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine,

Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen. So far, the research presents five waves that include data from

2006-2019. This study will focus only on Tunisia and use the data from the fourth wave

(2016-2017), where the sample includes 2,400 citizens aged 18 and above1. In this part, I have

chosen data from the fourth wave (2016-2017) instead of the time period of 8 years

(2012-2019), that I used when presenting the data in my introduction. This is because wave four

provides the most accurate data for me to examine my research question


3.2 Dependent variable - political participation

Political participation is sometimes seen as only voting. Democracy is, however, the rule of the people, and there are more ways for people to influence politics than voting. Political participation is far from limited to voting; it takes many forms (Dalton, 2008). The classical definition by Verba, Scholzman and Brady is that political participation is an activity that has the intent to influence government action. Influencing government is done by either directly influencing the making of public policy or indirectly by influencing the people making the policies (Verba, Schlozman, Brady, 2001). Political activities are rapidly expanding. Therefore, the classical definitions need to be complemented. Van Deth identifies four points that seem to be consistently relevant when it comes to defining political participation: 1) Political participation is an action; 2) political participation is something done by citizens in their role as citizens, not as politicians or lobbyists; 3) political participation is voluntary and not enforced by the government; 4) political participation deals with government, state and politics in the broad sense (van Deth, 2014).

Because of these broad definitions, there is inflation in the acts that define political participation. Therefore, it is necessary to attempt to use more full definitions. Sidney Verba, Norman Nie, and Jae-on Kim identified four types of political participation; voting; campaign activity; contacting officials and collective action. Russel J. Dalton has complemented these four types with two more; protests and internet activism (Dalton, 2008). In this study, the definitions that I use to measure political participation in Tunisia are Verbas, Nies and Kim's types; voting, campaign activity, and collective action, and Dalton's type; protests. I will also add organization membership and party membership to be more context specific.


Campaign activity requires additional effort, and it can give citizens more political influence and policy information than voting. Furthermore, collective action is in many ways ‘’the essence of grassroot democracy’’ (Dalton, 2008, p. 46), and it involves people getting together for the same cause to change something they are unhappy about, collectively.

This type of political participation is different from voting and campaign activity since it is not institutionalized, and it is non-partisan. Protests fall under the same category; it is actions taken by those who are more or less alienated from institutions. Protesters often aim to gain or maintain citizen rights, and I claim that is, just as a collective action, the essence of grassroot democracy and informal political participation. Additionally, to catch the whole scale of political participation in Tunisia, I will use ‘’Membership in an organization’’ and ‘’Party membership’’ to. ‘’Membership in organizations’’ will be used because Tunisia, as previously mentioned, has a history of strong civil society organizations. Therefore, I believe that this variable is essential to include in my definition of political participation in this specific context. Moreover, ‘’Party membership’’, regardless if it's a passive or active membership, represents a fundamental attitude towards political participation and therefore, I argue that it is necessary in my case.

All said and done, relying on the Arab Barometer survey data, specifically fourth wave, I operationalize political participation as follows: 1) Voting, 2) Campaign activity, 3) Collective action, 4) Protests, 5) Party membership and 6) Organization membership. The question that captures these different forms of political participation in the Arab Barometer reads as follows:


Second, the question that measures collective action is: ‘’Here is a set of activities that citizens may take part in. During the past three years, did you 1. (Attend a meeting to discuss a subject or sign a petition. 2. (Participate in a protest, march or sit-in)’’. Third, the question that measures organization membership is: ‘’Are you a member of an organization or a group or a club?’’ Fourth, the question that measures party membership is: ‘Are you a member of a political party?’’. And at last, the question that measures campaign activity is: ‘During the parliamentary election, did you attend a campaign meeting or rally?’’.

The questions measuring party membership, organization membership and campaign activity are coded 1 = ‘’Yes’’ (The respondent did/are) and 2 = ‘’No’’ (The respondent did not/are not). However, I code the variables as follows; 0 = ‘’No, did not’’ and 1 continues to have the value 1 = ‘’Yes, I Did’’.

Furthermore, the questions measuring collective action have the original values 2 = ‘’Once’’, 3 = ‘’More than once’’ and 1 = ‘’I have never participated’’. I combine these 3 values into 2 and make them dummy variables. Now, 0 = ‘’Yes, I have participated’’, and 1 = ‘’No, I have not participated’’. Making the variables dichotomous helps when conducting the logistic regression analysis.

3.3 Main independent variable - young people


simply asks about the respondents age, which ranges from 18 to 95. Since my interest is to understand young people's political disengagement, age is reduced into a dummy variable with a coded 1 = young people and constitute of those aged 18 - 35; 0 = older people constitute of those aged between 36 and above.

3.4 Control variables

In the theoretical section (see, section 2) to examine what factors influence young people's political engagement in politics, I rely on socioeconomic, political-psychology and socialization theories. In the proceeding section, I outline how these indicators are measured using the Arab Barometer. Also, Table 2 presents the descriptive statistics for these variables.

3.4.1 Socioeconomic indicators


3.4.2 Trust

Trust is measured with the ordinal variable ‘’I'm going to name a number of institutions. For each one, please tell me how much trust you have in them’’. The institutions mentioned are ‘’Government (Council of Ministers)’’,‘’ Courts and legal system’’, ‘’The elected council of representatives (the parliament)’’, ‘’The armed forces (the army), ‘’The Muslim Brotherhood’’, ‘’Religious leaders’’, ‘’Political parties’’. I measure trust by an addictive scale that is formed by combining trust in ‘’Government (Council of Ministers)’’, ‘’Courts and legal system’’, ‘’The elected council of representatives (the parliament)’’ and ‘’Political parties’’. The values in these variables range from a scale of 1-4 where 1= ‘’A great deal of trust’’ 2 = ‘’Quite a lot of trust’’, 3 = ‘’Not very much trust’’ and 4= ‘’No trust at all’’. I flip the values and code them as follows; 1 = ’’No trust at all’’, 2= ‘’Not very much trust’’, 3 = ‘‘Quite a lot of trust’’ and 4 = ‘’A great deal of trust’’.

3.4.3 Socialization

To measure socialization, I measure social media usage. The variable that I use to do this asks: ‘’On average, how often do you use the internet?’’ and has values that range from 1-6 where 1 = ‘’I am online almost all day’’ 2 = ‘’Daily’’ 3 = ‘’Several times a week’’ 4 = ‘’Once a week’’ 5 = ‘’Less than once a week’’ and 6 = ‘’I do not use the internet’’. I flip the values on this variable as well and combine value 4 ‘’Once a week’’, and 5 ‘’Less than once a week’’ because both variables signify low internet use. The coding now is the following; 1 = ‘’Do not use the internet’’, 2 = ‘’Rarely use the internet’’, 3 = ‘’Several times a week’’, 4 = ‘’Daily’’ and 5 = ‘’Online almost all day’’.


times a month’’, 4 = ‘’Rarely’’ and 5 = ‘’I don’t follow it ever’’. I flip the values on this variable as well and combine value 3 ‘’A number of times a month’’ and value 4 ‘’Rarely’’, because both variables signify rare usage. Now, the coding is the following; 1 = ‘’I don't follow it ever’’, 2 = ‘’Rarely’’, 3 = ‘’A number of times a week’’ and 4 = ‘’Daily’’.

3.4.4 Political efficacy

Political efficacy is measured through internal and external efficacy. The variable that measures political efficacy is ‘’Do you agree or disagree with the following statements?’’ and the statements are measuring both internal and external efficacy. The statement measuring external efficacy is ’‘Political leaders are concerned with the needs of ordinary citizens’’, and the statement that measures internal efficacy is; ‘’Sometimes, politics are so complicated that I cannot understand what is happening.’’. The values are 1= ‘’I strongly agree’’, 2 = ‘’I agree’’, 3= ‘’I disagree’’ and 4 = ‘’I strongly disagree’’. I make this variable a dummy variable where 1‘’I strongly agree’’ and 2 ‘’I agree’’ is assigned the value 0 = ‘’Don't have efficacy’’, since the people responding ‘’I strongly agree’’ or ‘’I agree’’ on the questions shows low or lacking efficacy. After that, value 3 ‘’I disagree’’ and 4 ‘’I strongly disagree’’ are assigned the value 1 = ‘’Have efficacy’’, since those responding ‘’I disagree’’ or ‘’I strongly disagree’’, shows efficacy.

Table 2.

Variables Mean Standard Deviation Minimum Maximum


Income 0.47 0.49 0.00 1.00 Trust 2.15 1.05 1.00 4.00 External efficacy 77 0.41 0.00 1.00 Internal efficacy 0.18 0.38 0.00 1.00 Internet use 2.70 1,58 1.00 5.00 Political news 2.87 1.08 1.00 4.00

Note: Frequency table of the independent, dependent and control variables from the Arab Barometer’s data set, wave four (2016-2017).

4. Results and Interpretation

First, I begin by examining whether there are true differences in political participation among young people in Tunisia, and this is achieved by comparing the participatory pattern in our six forms of political engagement to those of older Tunisians with data from the Arab Barometers fourth wave (2016-2017). Table 3 shows three trends. First, regarding more formal mode of participation (i.e., voting) young people are less likely to participate. Second, turning to protest activity, unsurprisingly, young people are more likely to engage compared to older people. Third, regarding the other forms of informal activity notably party membership etc, the relationship is not significant, but move in the right direction suggesting young people are still less likely to engage in these forms of participation. However, the results are not entirely clear, and therefore I need to engage in multivariate logistic regression. That I will do in the next section.

Table 3.

Table 3: Age and forms of political engagement in Tunisia – Bivariate relationship Spearman’s Rho


Notes: Bivariate results between age and different forms of political engagement are derived from the Arab Barometer

**Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed); *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Here, I rely on a logistic regression model, I now examine young people's participation in Tunisia, in a model that takes into consideration key explanatory variables from the socioeconomic, political-psychological and socialization theories. These results for each mode of political activity is reported in Table 4. However, for clarity, the proceeding section focuses on young people's participation in each form of political participation.

Table 4.

Voting Campaign Organization membership B Sig Exp (B) B Sig Exp (B) B Sig Exp (B) Age -1,11 0,0005 0,32 -0,16 0,48 0,84 -0,03 0,91 0,96 Employment 0,30 0,03 1,35 0,08 0,67 1,09 0,17 0,49 1,18 Education 0,28 0,0005 1,33 0,26 0,002 1,29 0,40 0,0005 1,49 Income 0,20 0,17 1,22 -0,40 0,07 0,66 0,11 0,69 1,12 Trust 0,19 0,04 1,21 0,10 0,47 1,11 0,14 0,46 1,15 Ext. Efficacy -0,31 0,05 0,72 -0,22 0,33 0,79 0,12 0,69 1,13 Int. Efficacy 0,22 0,30 1,25 -0,00 0,98 0,99 -0,21 0,55 0,80 Internet Use -0,01 0,85 0,99 0,20 0,01 1,22 0,33 0,0005 1,40 Political News 0,36 0 1,43 0,72 0,0005 2,06 0,13 0,43 1,14 Consant -1,64 0,0005 0,19 -4,94 0,0005 0,00 -5,69 0,0005 0 N 1062 1068 1068

-2Loglikelihood 1327,001a 723,573a 517,506a Nagelkerke R2 0,17 0,104 0,161 %Correctlypredicted

65,9 88 92

Table 4 (continues)

Party membership Petition Protest


Ext. Efficacy 0,41 0,48 1,51 0,27 0,30 1,31 0,03 0,88 1,03 Int. Efficacy -0,41 0,52 0,65 0,18 0,52 1,20 -0,06 0,82 0,93 Internet Use 0,31 0,05 1,37 0,23 0,004 1,26 0,36 0,0005 1,14 Political News 0,98 0,001 2,68 0,34 0,02 1,41 0,46 0,001 1,59 Consant -8,65 0,0005 0,0005 -5,38 0,02 1,41 -4,82 0,0005 0,008 N 1068 1065 1068

-2Loglikelihood 204,730a 684,509a 751,075a Nagelkerke R2 0,15 0,131 0,213 %Correctlypredicted 97,7 88,5 85,7

4.1 Voting

Age, as predicted, shows a strong significance when it comes to voting. To be precise, this result suggests young Tunisia are 68 per cent less likely to vote when compared to older voters (see, also Tambe 2017). Employment, education, trust, external efficacy and political news also show significant effects on voting. The B-coefficients on these variables are positive, which means that an increase in the value of any of these variables means an

increase in voting, as predicted by my socio-economic, political psychology and socialization models. Income, internal efficacy, and internet use do not show to have a significant effect on voting, which is contrary to what the models expected but consistent with previous results in the African continent. Overall, taking about internal and external efficacy, my data suggest that the results are insignificant. However, a closer look reveals that the B-coefficient for external efficacy is negatively signed, while that for internal efficacy is positively. In sum, this result tends to collaborate previous studies in the African continent that shows both internal and external efficacy seems to have no significant effect on voting (see, Tambe, 2021).

4.2 Campaign activity


significant effect on campaign activity. The results also show that a person who is higher educated is 29 per cent more likely to campaign than a person who is lower educated, a person who uses the internet more frequently is 22 per cent more likely to campaign than a person who does not use the internet and a person who consumes political news through the media is 106 per cent more likely to campaign than a person who does not consume political news. This result confirms the prediction of my socio-economic, political psychology and socialization model.

4.3 Organization membership

The results show that young people are 4 per cent less likely to be members in organizations than older people. Education and internet use show a significant effect on organization membership. This suggests that a person with a higher education level is 49 per cent more likely to be a member in an organization than a person who has a lower education level, and a person who uses the internet is 40 per cent more likely to be a member of an organization than a person who does not use the internet. Employment, income, trust, external efficacy, internet use and political news don't show to have any significant effect on organization membership. However, these variables have positive B-coefficients which means that they are moving in the expected direction. Internal efficacy has a negative B-coefficient, which means that lower internal efficacy is associated with a higher probability of membership in organization; this was not expected in my model.

4.4 Party membership


frequently is 37 per cent more likely to be a member of a party than one who does not and a person who consumes political news through the media is 168 per cent more likely to be a member of a party than a person who does not consume political news through the media. Income, internal efficacy and trust do not show a significant effect; however, they show a negative B-coefficient, which means that a decrease in these variables is associated with an increase in party membership, which is unexpected.

4.5 Attend meetings/ Sign petition

The data suggests that young people are 19 per cent less likely to attend meetings and sign petitions than older people. Employment, education, internet use and political news have a significant effect on attending meetings and signing petitions. This confirms the socio-economic and socialization models. Furthermore, trust and external efficacy do not show to have a significant effect on attending meetings and signing petitions. However, these variables show a positive B-coefficient and are, therefore moving in the expected direction. Income show a negative B-coefficient, and therefore, a decrease in income is associated with an increase in attendance in meetings and signing petitions. Regarding the results for income, the direction does not confirm my model, but it does, however, go in line with the previous results of income compared to the types of political participation interpreted above.

4.6 Protest march sit in


not very surprising, since lower economic classes historically tend to mobilize for change in a larger extent than higher economic classes (Biswas, Vijaya, 2019). Furthermore, the results of employment, education, income, internet use and political news were partly expected in the socio-economic and socialization models. External efficacy does not show to have any significant effect on protesting. However, it does show that a person with external efficacy is 3 per cent more likely to participate in a protest than a person who does not have external efficacy, and therefore this variable moves in the expected direction. However, internal efficacy and trust do not move in the expected direction. These variables show negative B-coefficients, meaning that a decrease in trust and internal efficacy is associated with an increase in participation in protests, marches and sit ins. This result is consistent with previous research about political participation, implying that protests can be sparked by a lack of trust in institutions and governments. (Craig, Maggiotto, 1982).

4.7 Interpretation

Hypothesis 1a: Lack of access to resources and opportunities (i.e. employment, education and income) negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.


resources negatively affects political participation, is therefore also confirmed when it comes to young people in Tunisia.

Hypothesis 2a. Lack of trust in institutions negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.

Trust only shows significance in Voting, meaning that a lack of trust does affect young people’s tendency to vote. Also, trust has a positive B-coefficient in campaign activity, organization membership and attending meetings/signing petitions. This partly confirms my hypothesis, since a lack of trust negatively affects young people's engagement in some forms of political participation in Tunisia.

Hypothesis 2b: Lack of external efficacy negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.

External efficacy only shows a significance in voting, but it shows a negative B-coefficient. This is also the case in campaigning; the B-coefficient for external efficacy is negative. Therefore, the lack of external efficacy does not seem to negatively affect voting and campaign activity, but the opposite. However, in organization membership, party membership, attending meetings/signing petitions and protest, the B-coefficient positive, which suggest that those with external efficacy do tend to participate more frequently in these forms of participation, than those who don’t have external political efficacy.

Hypothesis 2c. Lack of internal efficacy negatively affects young people's political participation in Tunisia.


Internal efficacy does not show any significance in any of the dependent variables. The data shows us a negative B-coefficient in campaigning, organization membership, party membership and protest, which means that those with no internal efficacy are more likely to participate in these forms of political participation, than those who have internal efficacy. According to my results, when a young person has internal efficacy, it only translates into participation in voting and attending meetings/signing petitions.

Hypothesis 3c. Social media use positively affects political participation among young people in Tunisia.

Internet use shows a significant effect on campaigning, organizational membership, party membership, meetings/petitions and protest and the B-coefficient is positive in all dependent variables, which confirms my hypothesis that a young person who uses the internet frequently is more likely to engage in all forms of political participation used in the analysis.

Hypothesis Consumption of political news positively affects political participation among young people in Tunisia.


5. Conclusion

This thesis has been an attempt to contribute with knowledge about low political participation among young people in Tunisia. Using data from the Arab Barometers fourth wave, I have examined through logistic regression, how income, education, employment, trust, external efficacy, internal efficacy, internet use and consumption of political news through the media, affects voting, campaigning, organization membership, party membership, attending meetings/signing petitions and protesting.

As some scholars would have expected, trust shows a negative B-coefficient when it comes to protest - lower trust means higher participation in protests, also among young people in Tunisia. Trust shows a significant effect on voting and a positive B-coefficient. This confirms Henn’s theory that citizens who lack trust, withdraw from formal politics, and it is often shown in the absence of voting in elections (Henn et al., 2005). However, my findings do not match Putnam’s findings that trust positively affects political meetings, signing petitions and involvement in organizations (Putnam, 2001). In conclusion, trust seems to be necessary for young Tunisians when it comes to voting in elections, and therefore, trust is an essential factor for Tunisia to strengthen when it comes to stimulating young people’s participation in elections, according to my results.


6. References

Aceproject.org. 2020. The Importance of Youth Participation In Formal Political Processes Available at:

http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/yt/yt10/yt210/the-importance-of-youth-participation-in-formal Accessed 19 November 2020.

Blais, André. 2007. ’Turnout in Elections’, Dalton, R.J., Klingermann, H.D., (ed.)’’Oxford handbook of political behaviour’’. New York: Oxford University Press, 278-320

Cia.gov. 2020. Africa: Tunisia - The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency. Available at: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ts.html Accessed 27 November 2020.

Dalton, R., 2008. Citizen Politics. New York: Chatham House Publishers/Seven Bridges Press, 32-73.

Dalton, Russel J. (2000). The decline of party identification. In parties without partisans: Political change in advanced industrial democracies, ed. R. J. Dalton and M. P. Wattenberg. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 145-216.

Deane, S., 2013. Transforming Tunisia, The Role Of Civil Society In Tunisia’s Transition. International Alert. Available at: https://www.international-alert.org/sites/default/files/publications/Tunisia2013EN.pdf Accessed:16 March 2020.


Emre Ceyhun, H., 2019. Social Capital in The Middle East And North Africa. social capital public opinion. The Arab Barometer. Available at: https://www.arabbarometer.org/wp-content/uploads/social-capital-public-opinion-2019.pdf

Accessed 15 November 2020.

Eric Amnå and Joakim Ekman, 2014. Standby citizens: diverse faces of political passivity, European Political Science Review, vol. 6, No. 2, 261-281.

Foa, R. and Mounk, Y., 2017. The Signs of Deconsolidation. Journal of Democracy, 28, 5-15.

George, Joffé 2011 The Arab Spring in North Africa: origins and prospects, The Journal of North African Studies, 16:4, 507-532, DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2011.630881

Hyman, Herbert. 1959. Political Socialization: A Study in the Psychology of Political Behavior. New York: Free Press, 54-76.

Jan Delhey & Kenneth Newton 2003. Who trusts: The origins of social trust in seven societies, European Societies, 93-137 DOI: 10.1080/1461669032000072256

Jemail, D. 2015. Tunisian civil society. World Bank Blogs, Available at:

https://blogs.worldbank.org/arabvoices/tunisian-civil-society-revolutionaries-peace-keepers Accessed: 8 May 2020.

Korany, B. and Sayyad, M., 2017. Youth Political Engagement During the Arab Spring: Egypt And Tunisia Compared. Sahwa Project. Available at:

http://sahwa.eu/OUTPUTS/SAHWA-Scientific-Papers/Scientific-Paper-on-youth-political-engagement-in-Egypt-and-Tunisia Accessed: 5 November 2020.


Merelman, R. Magaret. 1986. Revitalizing Political Socialization, Political Psychology: Contemporary Problems and Issues, edited by M. Herman, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 279– 319.

Neundorf, Anja, Richard G. Niemi, and Kaat Smets. 2016. The Compensation Effect of Civic Education on Political Engagement: How Civics Classes Make Up for Missing Parental Socialization Political Behavior 1–29.

Nie, Norman H., Junn, Jane, and Stehlik-Berry, Kenneth, 1996. Education and Democratic Citizenship in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 46-231.

Putnam, D. R. 1993. Making democracy work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 94-183.

Putnam, R., 2001. Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster, 63-78.

Sears, D., Huddy, L. and Levy, J., 2013. The Oxford Handbook of Political Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 340-389.

Statista. 2020. Tunisia - Youth Unemployment Rate 1999-2020 | Statista.

Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/813115/youth-unemployment-rate-in-tunisia Accessed 26 November 2020.

Stephanie, Schwartz, 2011. Youth and the "Arab Spring". Available at:

https://www.usip.org/publications/2011/04/youth-and-arab-spring Accessed: 17 November 2020.

Sunshine Hillygus D. 2005. The missing link: Exploring the Relationship Between Higher Education and Political Engagement, Department of Government, Harvard University, Littauer Center, Cambridge DOI 10.1007/s11109-005-3075-8


The Electoral Commission, 2005. Social Exclusion And Political Engagement London: Available at: https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdf_file/Social-exclusion-and-political-engagement.pdf, Accessed 23 November 2020.

The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, The World Bank Group, 2014. Breaking the Barriers to Youth Inclusion. Washington, DC: Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/document/MNA/tunisia/breaking_the_ba rriers_to_youth_inclusion_eng.pdf, Accessed 21 November 2020.

United Nations Publication, 2018. Youth Civic Engagement. New York: Available at:

https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/wp-content/uploads/sites/21/2018/12/un_world_youth_report_youth_civic_engagement.pdf, Accessed 24 November 2020.

Verba, S., Schlozman, K. and Brady, H., 2001. Voice and Equality. 3rd ed. Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University Press 103-167.

Waltz, Susan E. 1990. Another View of Feminine Networks: Tunisian Women and the Development of Political Efficacy. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 21–36. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/164380. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

Wolfinger, R. and Rosenstone, S., 1980. Who Votes? New Haven: Yale Univ. Pr, 25-59.

Zouhir, Gabsi. 2019 Tunisia’s youth: awakened identity and challenges post-Arab Spring, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 46:1, 68-87, DOI:



Related documents

The five countries which will be examined are Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, and Morocco due to the sufficient data available on both Arab Barometer (surveys) and V-Dem

(6) Presentation: UPnP devices can also provide web page presenting their status, that viewed by controller as a depending for controlling. At a technical level,

Recent experiments (Posner and Rossman, 1965) suggest that items are maintained in immediate memory by some activity, conveniently termed “rehearsal,” which requires part of

Deconsolidation theory suggests that countries are not completely resistant to democratic decline, and that just like democracy can become the only game in town when citizens

composing techniques and game composing techniques may inform the engineer how these tools could be used to implement and mix the music and soundtrack within the game, in a way

Output-agreement game (See, F IGURE 1 ), all players are given the same input and must produce an output based on this common input?. Reward is given to players that are

The Power Pills emits a positive influence when the combined value of all 4 ghosts distance is lower then value d and emits a negative influence when the ghosts are far away so

This paper examines if human capital, population size, and house prices can explain earned income differences by first performing an Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), followed by