Political participation and well-being: A case study of political activists after 3/11
Project duration: 2012-2015
In the aftermath of the triple disaster of March 11th 2011, many citizens in Japan who were neither interested nor active in politics started to become engaged in the movement against nuclear energy and for protection against radiation. Mass demonstrations like the one on July 16th 2012 in Tokyo with an estimated number of 170.000 participants make this trend visible. Another example are citizens who start to take an active part in local politics by directing petitions to their local ward office. All these people aim at influencing decision making processes through political participation. But how does this active engagement affect the activists themselves – regardless of the outcome of decision processes? Do perceptions of self change in the course of political activities? Research has dealt with these questions first and foremost in a theoretical perspective. The concept of procedural utility for example emphasizes that not only the results of decision processes, but also the question of how these decisions are reached, matter. In case that decision making processes fulfill certain psychological needs that contribute positively to self-perceptions, participants can gain positive utility out of their actions and increase feelings of subjective well-being. This project aims to reassess these theories of a correlation between political participation and subjective feelings of well-being with qualitative research methods by choosing the movement against nuclear energy and for protection against radiation after 3/11 as a case study.