Social capital is defined as the, “degree of civic connectedness within a community or state”. This can be seen as the relationship that people have with their community. Observed as social groups like clubs or churches, it does not matter why people gather together. This can be for sport, support, or socializing. In these settings people participate in social engagement. Representing a community or subculture it allows people to share information to create social capital. It acknowledges shared human interest and nurtures the community and society. As a result, social capital greatly influences voter turnout. How much an individual is involved or invested in the community can directly reflect participation in American democracy.
Researcher Matthew James explains that, “the biggest influence of politics in the community is social trust”, (James, 2014, p. 204). Trust plays a large role in who will vote and why. When the community is able to trust the government ad each other, members are more likely to vote. Individuals are ensured that their vote counts and has trust in the system. This is because voting is a representation of individual opinions that can affect the rest of society. So when constituents show no interest in politics, politicians are less likely to maintain the will of the people they serve. In this case Politian’s will create a government that serves themselves and not the will of the community. Therefore individuals that show an interest in general society have a greater incentive to vote. When there is no interest, the desire to vote is limited.
There are different reasons why trends in voter turnout change or fluctuate. One reason is because of the changing media such as television and the internet. It has detached society from political candidates which makes it a less personal experience.
Other reasons that voter turnout as declined over the years is due to differences in political participation from young people. According to the James,” youth lack civic responsibility” and do not relate to politics today (2014). For this reason young people are unlikely to vote.
People are also unlikely to vote due to the generational affect. This relates to the level of distrust for government. With the lack of trust for government and people in authority, some feel the individual vote makes no difference. This is especially seen in the Black community. Living in the backlash of the civil rights movement, women’s rights, Vietnam, and War in Iraq most feel the vote is worthless. Regardless of how the public may feel, politicians are less likely to represent the social needs of minorities and people of color.
James, M. (2014). Social capital and political participation: An examination of Georgia counties. Political Science Review 17(3) p.204-9. Retrieved from: https://www.lagrange.edu/resources/pdf/citations/2014/17_James_PoliticalScience.pdf