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DETERMINANT OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN CAMEROON

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DETERMINANT OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

John Locke advocated for a democratic form of governance, founded on liberal principles, in 1690. He refuted the notion of Divine Rights of Kings, which said that kings were divinely destined and so had absolute authority to enforce their will as law. This critique was directed at the concept of the state as conceptualised by Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher and political science theorist (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2019). Locke argued that although a state had sovereignty, the ultimate authority does not lie within the state itself, but rather with the people. He also asserted that the state holds supreme power, but only provided it adheres to both civil and what he referred to as "natural" law. Since sovereignty refers to the highest power that rests with the people rather than the King (Barratt & Maddox, 2016), the King is thus a someone chosen by the people to advocate for their interests. Therefore, he only advocates for the individuals who have specifically chosen him to represent their own particular interests, namely the national interest. Typically, the monarch who embodies the desires and concerns of his people is "appointed" by the people, indicating the power they have (Bryman, 2016). The selection of a leader is conducted via democratic elections, whereby every person have the right and responsibility to pick an individual whom they believe can effectively govern the nation and safeguard their interests. The consent of the governed is essential to the fundamental idea of democracy. Democracy encompasses several rights, including constitutional constraints, freedom of speech, safeguarding of human and minority rights, responsibility and openness, a multi-party system, a free market system, and adherence to the rule of law (Burnell, Randall & Rakner, 2017). Hence, elections in alone are insufficient to uphold the integrity of democracy. However, the proponents of democracy emphasise the significance of free and fair elections, highlighting its value. Elections provide political rights to individuals and the population. They are the primary indicators of democracy. They serve as a continuous embodiment of the agreement between the governed and those in power. The forum serves as a platform for individuals to articulate their desires and engage in the political affairs of their nation (Cheeseman, 2018). 

Political participation and civic engagement are essential components of a well-functioning democracy, acting as significant markers of public involvement and empowerment within the political process. Within the specific setting of Cameroon, a country characterised by a wide range of cultural practices and a complicated political past, investigating political involvement and citizen participation provides valuable understanding of the mechanisms of governance, citizenship, and democracy (Dijck, Munck & Terpstra, 2017). Cameroon, situated in Central Africa, is distinguished by its rich cultural legacy, diverse language landscape, and diverse physical areas. Following its liberation from colonial domination in the 1960s, Cameroon has seen phases of political transformation and socio-economic upheaval, which have influenced the structure of its political establishments and the involvement of its citizens in the political system. To comprehend political involvement in Cameroon, it is necessary to conduct a detailed examination of its historical, socio-economic, and cultural aspects (Dupuy Ron & Prakash, 2015). The nation has seen changes in its political terrain, transitioning from a period of single-party hegemony to the establishment of a multi-party democratic system in the early 1990s. These developments have impacted the manner in which people participate with the political system, including their rates of voter participation, involvement with political parties, and engagement in civil society organisations (Ewald & Mhamba, 2019). Furthermore, the presence of several ethnic and linguistic groups in Cameroon adds to the intricacy of its political processes. Although French and English are the official languages of the nation, it also harbours a multitude of indigenous languages, each characterised by its own cultural customs and governmental structures. The presence of diverse groups offers both advantages and difficulties in promoting inclusive political involvement and civic participation. Socio-economic considerations have a substantial influence on the formation of political involvement and civic engagement in Cameroon. Enduring challenges such as poverty, unemployment, and inequality may have a significant influence on individuals' capacity to actively participate in the democratic process. Furthermore, the capacity to get knowledge and information, along with the presence of civic resources and infrastructure, might impact an individual's political consciousness and involvement (Hart, 2018). Examining political involvement and civic engagement in Cameroon offers useful insights on the effectiveness and deficiencies of its democratic institutions, as well as the obstacles that its inhabitants encounter in actively influencing the nation's political trajectory. Through the analysis of the elements that either support or impede citizen involvement, academics may make valuable contributions to the creation of policies and programmes that seek to improve democratic governance and promote inclusive political participation among Cameroon's varied population..

1.2 Statement of the problem

Comprehending the complexities of political involvement and civic engagement is crucial for promoting democratic stability and social advancement in Cameroon, a country characterised by a variety of ethnicities, languages, and regional inequalities. Although the nation has a multi-party political system and constitutional provisions that provide people' rights to participate in political processes and civil activities, there is an urgent need to examine the present status of political participation and civic engagement (Saskia, 2019). Structural impediments, socio-economic inequality, and geographic marginalisation may impede the accessibility and inclusiveness of political involvement channels, including voting procedures, political party activity, and civil society activities. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the magnitude of these constraints is essential for formulating tactics to augment public participation in the political domain. Observations indicate that there is a widespread feeling of disappointment and lack of interest among some groups of the Cameroonian population when it comes to political processes and civic matters. Possible factors contributing to this phenomena might include the perception of ineffectiveness un participating, a loss of faith in political institutions, and a sense of disappointment with leadership. An examination of the fundamental reasons and visible signs of civic disengagement is crucial for rejuvenating democratic participation and cultivating a feeling of civic responsibility among individuals (Saskia, 2019). Lack of sufficient political involvement and civic engagement present substantial risks to the stability and legitimacy of democratic administration in Cameroon. Insufficient public participation may worsen political polarisation, heighten vulnerability to authoritarian inclinations, and weaken the transparency and responsibility of government institutions. Examining the connection between political involvement, citizen participation, and the ability of a democracy to withstand challenges is essential for protecting the nation's democratic path. Hence, the need to determine political participation and civic engagement in Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to determine political participation and civic engagement in Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To investigate the levels of political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon.

To analyze the factors influencing political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon.

To assess the impact of various forms of political participation and civic engagement on democratic governance and social cohesion in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What are the levels of political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon?

What are the factors, influencing political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon?

What are the impact of various forms of political participation and civic engagement on democratic governance and social cohesion in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Policy makers: Research findings on political participation and civic engagement can inform policy-making processes aimed at promoting inclusive governance, enhancing citizen participation, and strengthening democratic institutions. Understanding the barriers to participation and the factors that facilitate engagement can help policymakers design interventions to increase citizen involvement in the political process.

Academia: the findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on political participation and civic engagement in Cameroon. Empirically, the study will investigate the levels of political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon, analyze the factors influencing political participation and civic engagement among citizens of Cameroon and assess the impact of various forms of political participation and civic engagement on democratic governance and social cohesion in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Political participation: any activity a citizen engages in to influence their government.

Civic engagement: any individual or group activity addressing issues of public concern.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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