Youth Politics

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On the Participation in Politics of the Youth in Contemporary Chinese Cities

 
Abstract: Based on the analysis of a related questionnaire, this article probes into some attributes of the situation and awareness of youth’s participation in politics in Chinese urban areas in the present background of China’s reform. These attributes include the split of their political participation awareness from their concrete political participation activities, their recognition of some fundamental political principles, their deep concern about China’s social problems as well as the different levels of political participation due to the imbalanced development of different regions, industries and social strata. Owing to the singleness of the channel and means of political participation, there exists certain degree of indifference to politics among the youth, which is closely intertwined with the prevalent values in certain period of time. Under the influence of economic utilitarianism budding in economic opening-up, the values of pragmatism and individualism register a large proportion among the Chinese youth. Guided by pragmatism and individualism in the reality, they tend to go to extremes in the understanding of those values. For instance, they take the negative effects of reform as the positive ones; they emphasize on their individual needs while ignoring the collective interests of the whole community. The author hereby holds that on the basis of the youth’s misunderstanding of those values, their behavior will inevitably cause the separation of the awareness from their behavior in their political participation. Hence, they can hardly form a unified force in participating in politics. Instead, they may become the negative factor disturbing China’s political development and social stability.  

Political participation is a kind of activity for the common residents to participate in political life and to exert an influence on the form, the operation, the rules and the policy-making of the current political system through legal channels. The current situation of Chinese youth’s participation in politics is closely related with the background of China’s modernization as a whole. The reform and opening-up policy have enabled the economic development to play a central role in China’s social development. Meanwhile, China’s politics is conspicuously characterized by such political activities hinged with economy. Consequently, in analyzing and explaining the contemporary situation of Chinese youth’s participation in politics, we cannot go without evaluating its background. Here “youth” refers to “the young residents with aged from 18 to 40 who live in Chinese cities”. The temporary situation that Chinese youth are confronted with is the general background needing our in-depth analysis.  

I. The current Chinese youth’s awareness in political participation After China’s entry into the 21st century, numerous and dramatic changes have taken place in the country. Throughout the two decades’ reform and opening-up in their economy and society, Chinese people have come to realize the urgency of their political reform. The youth are the dominant participants in China’s political life, and their awareness of political participation has undergone sweeping transformation. From the Cultural Revolution to Reform and Opening-up age, Chinese youth have experienced a striking transformation from fanaticism to indifference. After a quarter century’s reform and opening-up, under the nurture of the modern western civilization and in the absorption of the traditional Chinese culture, their awareness of participation has got the following features.  

1.               There is a phenomenon that the youth’s awareness and activities in the political participation appear to have split from each other. Economy and politics have consistently been the hot topics among the contemporary youth. Yet, compared with economy, currently, the topic on...
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