Gender-specific processes of political identity formation in adolescence

For many decades, empirical studies, especially youth studies, have repeatedly found gender differences in political orientations. Girls and young women perceive politics less important, have less political interest and rate themselves as less politically competent. They are also often more skeptical and distrustful of conventional politics and more dissatisfied with the actual implementation of democracy. Based on longitudinal data from an extensive empirical study on the political identity formation of young people in East Germany, gender-specific processes are traced and gender differences in political orientations are explained. In addition to socialization theory assumptions about the influences of parents, peers, school and mass media as explanatory factors, the feminist hypothesis of women's different understanding of politics is also empirically tested. The latter means that the stronger political disinterest of young women refers only to conventional politics. In other areas of politics, their interest is even stronger than that of young men. The thesis of a different understanding of politics is additionally analyzed in a cross-cultural comparison with data from Israeli and Palestinian young people. Furthermore, the question of whether attitudes toward the fall of the Berlin Wall and East German socialism can explain the greater mistrust and dissatisfaction of East German young women with established politics will be investigated.

In this DFG project, data from the DFG-funded research projects Political Socialization of High School Students under the Influence of School, Parents, Peers, and Social Milieu and Political Socialization of Young People in the New Federal States of the Federal Republic of Germany (Brandenburg), in Israel, and on the West Bank are analyzed. The research projects were conducted between 1995 and 2003.