Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Andrew Busch

Reader 2

Aseema Sinha

Rights Information

© 2016 Kwali N Liggons


The work of the collective research in this thesis is to provide concise insights about the inputs that are responsible for the process by which young adults develop civic competence and how this translates into active participation among young adults in the political process over time. Research for this thesis explores how key concepts of socialization, task generalization, shifts in young adult voting trends between 1972-2008, the role of social research statistics, and political theory informs the role of socialization in the development of civic competence in young adult voters. This thesis also explores critical social contexts, direct and indirect influence of family units, how critical moments in the academic careers of young adults take effect in college and ultimately young adulthood, what shifts in voting trends further indicate, and lastly the role that social media plays in the modern landscape of young adults becoming politically active and in a larger effort to assess core features of the young adult involvement in the political process following the passage of the 26th Amendment based on scholarly research in the aforementioned areas and relevant national studies.

By all cited statistics, with the exception of the 2008 presidential election, voting among young adults since 1972 has fallen precipitously. Contrary to traditional beliefs, which suggest that young adults are disengaged with the political process, key research findings indicate a shift in the means by which young adults engage in the political process. For example, at an increasing rate since 1972 young adults seek demonstrate their participation in the political process through hands on mechanisms such as volunteerism. Secondly, given the advent of Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and other social networks, young adults have largely transitioned the ways that they gather information about the political process from traditional means, such as newspapers, televised news broadcasts to social networks. Personal suggestions for increasing rates of young adult participation in the political process include a critical need for civic education curriculum in schooling systems that present contextual lessons on civic duty and how individual participation fits in the political process. Ultimately, the aim of this research is twofold: (1) to explain what are the key drivers of young adult participation in the political process, and (2) to shed light on the role young adults have in reshaping the political process for current and future generations.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.