Young people’s attitudes towards British political advertising: Nurturing or impeding voter engagement

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Authors: Dermody, J. and Scullion, R.

Volume: 14

Pages: 129-149

ISBN: 9780203826157

DOI: 10.4324/9780203826157

© 2005 by The Haworth Press, Inc. All rights reserved. This article presents findings from a national survey of ‘potential’ first time voters at the 2001 British General Election–specifi-cally their attitudes towards the print advertising used by the main political parties during this election. In analysing the data, the authors were particularly interested in examining the claim that political advertising contributes to a sense of malaise–most acutely apparent among young people. While we found high levels of claimed advertising awareness, this was coupled with largely unfavourable attitudes towards most of the print advertising used in the election. Despite these judgements, most young people considered the advertising to be at least as persuasive as its commercial cousins. Not surprisingly the evidence provides a mixed picture in terms of the role political advertising plays in the political dispositions of young people. As a familiar discourse advertising offers the political classes an entry point to establish a dialogue with young sections of the electorate. However, for many young people, political advertising appears to help reinforce their predilection about politics being something one naturally distrusts.

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