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Young people and voting behaviour: alienated youth and (or) an interested and critical citizenry?

Janine Dermody (The Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)
Stuart Hanmer‐Lloyd (The Business School, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK)
Richard Scullion (London School of Economics, London, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 6 April 2010




The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of trust, cynicism and efficacy on young peoples' (non)voting behaviour during the 2005 British general election.


Survey data were gathered from 1,134 interviewer‐administered questionnaires with young first‐time voters during the three‐week period following the British general election in May 2005. Validated attitudes statements were used to measure their levels of trust, cynicism and efficacy.


The research shows that young people are generally distrusting of and very cynical about politicians and the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) Thus, in part, the data support the existing evidence that cynicism contributes to feelings of political alienation. However, the paper's findings also indicate that while young people can be highly distrusting and cynical, they can also be interested in the election and vote.

Research limitations/implications

Current, negative evaluations of young people and electoral politics need to be reviewed. While, it cannot be denied that this age group are highly cynical, and their electoral participation is in decline, for some, this cynicism, when combined with personal efficacy, can act as a positive force to stimulate “monitorial” interaction with election offerings. Consequently, further research is needed to understand young peoples' perceptions of democracy and electoral politics, how their personal efficacy can be increased and what feeds their cynicism.


This paper offers a contemporary understanding of young people as an interested and critical citizenry and raises a number of important questions that set a new agenda for political marketers researching youth electoral engagement in the future.



Dermody, J., Hanmer‐Lloyd, S. and Scullion, R. (2010), "Young people and voting behaviour: alienated youth and (or) an interested and critical citizenry?", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 44 No. 3/4, pp. 421-435.



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