Principled Non-voters and Postmaterialist Theory: An Exploratory Analysis of Young Principled Non-Voters in New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis examines the political attitudes and behaviour of young principled non-voters in New Zealand and explores the potential influence of postmaterialist theory on their decision not to vote in general elections. This research is primarily conducted through in-depth interviews with young principled non-voters with the goal of understanding their political motivations through their own words. Democratic theory, postmaterialist theory, leading voting theories and research relating to young people and New Zealand are all focused on to place the findings from the in-depth interviews in the context of wider literature and research.
The findings of this research suggest that, while postmaterialist theory is a potential influence on some of the young principled non-voters interviewed, the relationship between principled non-voters and postmaterialism is not as strong as expected. However, the findings did show consistently low levels support for the current systems of political representation and participation in New Zealand amongst those interviewed. This, as well as their support for alternative methods of participation, places the participants in line many of the current concerns for the health of representative democracies and traditional political practices. These principled non-voters also highlight the need for greater research into young non-voters in New Zealand, as they do not fit within traditional expectations of young apathetic non-voters.