FSD2343 Knowledge of Politics and Society 2008: Turku Region Upper Secondary Schools 2007-2008

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Authors

  • Elo, Kimmo (University of Turku. Department of Political Science)
  • Rapeli, Lauri (University of Turku. Department of Political Science)

Keywords

Internet use, mass media use, political awareness, political interest, political participation, political systems, schoolchildren, voting

Abstract

The survey charted the political knowledge of pupils in the final year class of upper secondary schools in the Turku region (Finland). The knowledge areas queried were basic political concepts, the political systems of Finland and the EU, and Finnish national economy. Opinions on politics and democracy were also surveyed. The data were collected as part of the research project "Knowledge of Politics in International Comparison 2007-2010" at the University of Turku. The same questions were presented in other surveys conducted by the project: FSD2499 Knowledge of Politics and Society 2008 and FSD2344 Knowledge of Politics and Society 2008: Turku Region Vocational Institutions 2007-2008. The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Education and Culture provided funding for the project.

First, opinions on politics were charted. The respondents were asked how interested they were in politics, how much information they had received from various sources (e.g. from educational institutes at different levels, friends, home) to understand social and political issues, how close they felt to specific political parties or civic/voluntary organisations and on what grounds they made their party/candidate choice in elections. Further questions covered the perceived importance of voting in different elections, the respondent's political and civic participation and participation methods. The respondents also rated how important they held a number of sources to be for obtaining political and social information (e.g. television, radio, newspapers, magazines, the Internet, events, contacts with decision-makers, personal communication). Television, radio, newspaper and Internet use was charted as well as reasons for using the Internet.

Next, political knowledge and knowledge of the Finnish political system were studied. The respondents were asked to assess the level of their own political and social knowledge. A number of questions explored knowledge on what the concepts of politics, democracy and political left and right entail. The respondents also graded the functionality of Finnish democracy and placed themselves on the left-right axis. Further questions investigated factual knowledge on Finnish constitution, proportional electoral system, electoral districts, functions of political parties, functions and powers of Parliament and the Prime Minister, parties represented in the coalition government and Parliament, elections, national incomes policy negotiations, etc.

Knowledge on EU issues was charted by asking the respondents in what year Finland became a member state, which countries were members in the EU or belonged to the euro zone, powers of the EU, legislation, to which EU institution representatives were elected by direct vote, how many votes Finland had in the Council of Ministers, how many members Finland had in the European Parliament, what were powers of the Parliament and the length of the electoral period.

Knowledge on Finnish national economy was explored through questions on local taxation, state budget, impact of inflation on purchasing power, and state income tax.

Background variables included the respondent's gender, year of birth, municipality of residence, basic education, type of neighbourhood, annual gross income of the household, and mother tongue.

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