Dissertation Abstracts

Generations and Political Participation in South Korea: The Moderating Effect of Trust on Political Participation of Five Generational Cohorts

Author: Park, Jae Young , jaeng.park@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: Seoul National University, Korea, South
Supervisor: Yee, Jae Yeol
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: Korean

Keywords: Generation , trust , social capital , political participation
Areas of Research: Political Sociology , Youth , Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management


Trust appears as a social value that reduces the cost of social interaction and cooperation in the discourse on social capital. A number of studies have shown that one’s trust in general people and government affects his or her political participation. However, whether the impact of trust on political engagement varies within social categories such as generations remains unclear. In this context, this paper analyzes the moderating effect of trust in generalized others and government institutions on the political participation of five generations, the Post-liberation, Babyboomers, X, Digital 1.0, and Digital 2.0. Using the 2014 Korean General Social Survey data, this study demonstrates that trust in government, rather than that in general people, moderates the participation likelihood of each generation. More importantly, it finds generational difference in the moderating effect of trust on relatively less costly political activities as voting, signing petitions, and contacting officials. In signing petition and contacting government officials, low level of trust in government increases the participation likelihood of the Post-liberation generation while diminishing or hardly affecting other generations’. On the other hand, the result shows that the moderating effect of general trust on voting and signing petition also differs by generation. This paper concludes that building a high level of trust between civil society and government institutions can encourage younger generations to participate in direct, active, and cost-effective forms of political action.

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