Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2015

Department 1

Political Science


In this research project I am seeking to gauge youth participation in and attitudes towards the South African democratic process. As in many democratic societies, there is a perception by some that the youth of South Africa are apathetic to issues related to politics and government. In this study I seek to evaluate youth perspectives of democracy based on what they have been taught in school and at home, levels of youth political participation, attitudes towards the African National Congress’s (ANC) dominance of South African politics, perceptions of political alternatives to the ANC, young people’s engagement with nongovernmental organizations in relation to making progress on civil society-related issues, and youth opinions on the Fees Must Fall campaign of 2015. I conducted four separate focus groups, three with youth from different civil society nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and one with a group of youth who live within a township of the eThekwini municipality. Participants ranged in age from sixteen to twenty-five and included young people of different races, genders, and socio-economic backgrounds. My hypothesis is that South African youth – specifically those associated with civil society NGOs in eThekwini – are, contrary to popular belief, very engaged with their democracy, especially using unconventional methods such as protesting, and have strong opinions related to the state of the political process in South Africa and the recent Fees Must Fall campaign.


Created during off-campus study as part of the SIT: Social and Political Transformation, Independent Study Project program.