chapter  3
28 Pages

The Gender Gap Reversed: Political Consumerism as a Women-Friendly Form of Civic and Political Engagement

A number of scholars worry that our civic and social life is eroding. H arvard political scientist Robert Putnam 2-arguably the most vocal proponent of this view--claims that reductions of confidence and social ties have not been limited to the political sphere, but rather extend into all aspects of society. Citizens in many countries not only refrain from joining political parties, but they also tend to participate less actively in all kinds of voluntary associations and other social activities. However, several criticisms and arguments have emerged to counter the claims of this “decline thesis.”3 One of the fundam ental lines of critique here is that the promoters of the decline thesis capture a one-sided social trend because they exclusively focus on the disappearance of traditional participation mechanisms, while at the same time neglecting new participation styles and methods that are rapidly replacing the old.4 These authors argue that political interest and the willingness to participate in political and societal affairs are still as strong as they were a few decades ago, but that this no longer translates into membership in traditional political organizations.5