Menu Home

Declining political literacy as a vector of post-democratisation

This is a difficult issue to know how to treat, but I think it’s an important one. Declining political literacy of the sort described here by David Shultz in American Politics In An Age of Ignorance, loc 143-157 is a unnecessary but  sufficient condition for ‘shadow mobilisations’ of the kind which are the most worrying feature of the contemporary post-democratic landscape:

Rick Shenkman’s Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter describes the declining literacy in American politics (2009). He notes how at a time when Americans seem to be demanding more and more opportunity to engage in direct democracy via initiative and referendum, they seem to know even less and less about basic facts regarding how the political process works. Similarly, in perhaps the most comprehensive study on American political literacy Michael DelliCarpini and Scott Keeter confirm the public’s ignorance in What Americans Don’t Know About Politics and Why It Matters (1989). Drawing upon extensive survey research, they found barely 40% could define the Bill of Rights, over 40% did not know that the Supreme Court could declare laws unconstitutional, only 20% could name two first Amendment rights, and only 19% could name all three branches of the national government (DelliCarpini and Keeter 1989: 70–71). Survey research in general suggests that only 59% of the population according to a Pew study can name who the vice-president is. 

Categories: Digital Elections, Party Politics and Diplomacy Post-Democracy, Depoliticisation and Technocracy Shadow Mobilization, Astroturfing and Manipulation

Tagged as:

Mark