2015年6月4日木曜日

Understanding America's "Interested Bystander:" A Complicated Relationship with Civic Duty

My teammates at Google Civic Innovation team conducted a research on What motivates American citizens to do things that are civic, and released the report "Understanding America's Interested Bystander".



Blog post is here

Slides:



Report:



Video:



Top insights

  • According to our research, almost half of the United States adult population could be considered “Interested Bystanders” – 48.9% of people are paying attention to issues around them, but not actively voicing their opinions or taking action on those issues.
  • There is a misalignment between how Interested Bystanders think they should engage civically, and the ways they actually engage. Interested Bystanders are not taking the political actions they say they value. On the flip side, they underrate what they are actually doing now as civic actors. While Interested Bystanders associate the political aspects of civic life with conflict, shame, and negative experiences, they are attracted to the aspects that are about community involvement and social relationships.
  • While Interested Bystanders say that power comes from having a voice, they are disinclined to share their own opinions. Additionally, many Interested Bystanders are uninterested in hearing the opinions of other people.
  • While many Interested Bystanders believe they have the most power at the local level — either because they have greater ability to influence others in their immediate circles, or because they feel proportionally more important in a smaller population — most participants reported voting only at the national level, indicating a tension between their voting choices and their own sense of efficacy.
  • When they do take civic action, Interested Bystanders do things that meet the public interest most often when it aligns with their self interest. They tell us that they are most often motivated by one of three reasons: 1) they have personal or professional experiences to bring to bear, 2) they have personal interests at stake, or 3) they wanted the satisfaction of an emotionally meaningful experience.

This research was conducted only in US so we do not have any report from elsewhere, but made me start to think about baseline data of Japan.

- 2014 Japanese lower house election marked the lowest voting turnout with 52.66%, breakdown of lower house election turnout rate by age as follows.


Data Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

-Breakdown of Japanese upper house election turnout rate by age as follows.


Data Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

-Voting turnout of Japanese local elections.


Data Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

This data is a bit old, but in 2011 elections for prefecture had the turnout of 48.15% and city/town/village level local election was 49.85%. (Prefecture election turnout in 2014 further decreased to 45.05%- Data Source NHK)

-Reasons for not going to vote in Japan:
27.0% replied they had to work, 24.1% had other important things to do, and 18.4% said they did not have candidate nor political party they wanted to vote.

Data Source: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications

Compared to US where the citizens know they should "ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country", Japanese citizens seems to rely more on the government to be functional and provide what you need.... and I think the Japanese government seemed to function well in the past - we had very low crime rate and police was functioning well, we have much better healthcare system and people are treated well, we have a very good public infrastructure including roads, railroads and telecommunications. However, after 311 the big earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant accident, Japanese citizens started to realize not to depend too much on the government and start taking civic actions such as volunteering, donating and community organizing.

This is data is from 2001 which is before 311 disaster. It shows the breakdown of volunteer activities by age- teenagers are doing a lot of volunteer activities, decreases when they become twenties and then as they grow older they re-engage with volunteering more.


Data Source: Japanese Statistics Bureau and Statistics Center

As for the contents of volunteering, 14% are engaged in city planning, 8% on protecting nature and environment, 5.5% on safety and 5.3% for children, 5.1% for elderly and 4.6% for health and medical services. Since this is from 2001, volunteering for natural disasters was very low, only 1.4% back then.


Data Source: Japanese Statistics Bureau and Statistics Center

Then there was the disaster. Japanese citizens who engaged in volunteering for natural disaster between October 2010 to September 2011 was 4.3 million people (tripled from 2006), among which 2.4 million were women.

Data Source: Japanese Statistics Bureau and Statistics Center

Age breakdown as follows (green line is data from 2011, red line is from 2006)




How the Public Views Open Government Initiatives
Why Millennials Don't Vote For Mayor: Barriers and Motivators for Local Voting

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki