Political alienation

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Political alienation refers to an individual citizen's relatively enduring sense of estrangement from or rejection of the prevailing political system.

Political alienation falls into two broad categories: political incapability and political discontentment. In the first instance, alienation is forced upon the individual by their environment, whereas in the second case it is voluntarily chosen by them.[1]

There are four different ways in which political alienation may be expressed:[2]

  1. Political powerlessness. An individual's feeling that they cannot affect the actions of the government.
  2. Political meaninglessness. An individual's perception that political decisions are unclear and unpredictable.
  3. Political normlessness. An individual's perception that norms or rules intended to govern political relations are broken down, and that departures from prescribed behavior are common.
  4. Political isolation. An individual's rejection of political norms and goals that are widely held and shared by other members of a society.

Political alienation is adversely related to political efficacy.[1][2]

The most common electoral consequences of political alienation are abstention and protest voting.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Olsen, Marvin E. (1968). "Two Categories of Political Alienation". Social Forces 47. Retrieved 2011-06-21. 
  2. ^ a b c Finifter, Ada W. (June 1970). "Dimensions of Political Alienation". The American Political Science Review. JSTOR 1953840. 

External links[edit]

Lesson Plan for The Encyclopedia of Democracy - Congressional Quarterly Books: Political alienation