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Political apathy is the indifference on the part of any citizen of any country with regard to their attitude towards political activities. For example, politicians, elections, public opinions, civic responsibility, etc. A broader way of referring to political apathy in a country is to consider its political culture. By contrast, political culture is the behavioral disposition of people towards the government of their country vis-a-vis every other political activity. Political apathy, if left uncontrolled, can bring about stagnation to the development of any nation. An individual's political apathy begins with a lack of understanding of politics or government to a certain degree, and that makes it more difficult for that individual to see the value in universal suffrage, and to see the benefits and/or costs of new policies that the government places. That makes the individual see it as irrational to gain the knowledge, since (supposedly) there would be no benefit (the individual would see this as rational ignorance). This creates a feedback loop.
Levels and distributions of political apathy are often hard to accurately assess. One can measure political apathy in a given culture by the amount of the citizens' political involvement, knowledge or activity. Political apathy can be seen to some degree in every society, be it in the developed world or the developing nations, but the degree to which it prevails differs between countries. For a nation to develop, and to have its laws function to the fullest, there must be a high level of political awareness, such that the ruled and the rulers will serve as a check on one another. In the United States, political apathy is a problem, with fewer young adults likely to participate in civic activities than a few decades ago.
Political apathy can also arise from a genuine disregard for politics for a variety of reasons. People can be educated and understand politics but still be willfully apathetic towards those topics.
- Pasek, Josh. "America's Youth and Community Engagement : How Use of Mass Media Is Related to Civic Activity and Political Awareness in 14- to 22-Year-Olds" (PDF). Communication Research. Retrieved 4 December 2011.
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