Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Timothy Fadgen


Youth residing in Kenya’s informal urban settlements commonly engage in election-related violence, yet little is known about why this occurs. This study explored the triggers for the escalation of such violence in informal settlements, which has been characteristic of almost all elections held since the introduction of the multiparty system in 1991. The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to understand lived experiences of young adults and community leaders who lived in one of Nairobi’s informal settlements who had witnessed the level of youth violence in the city. A conceptual foundation related to electoral justice that manifests in different contexts during elections and a related behavioural theory of elections formed the theoretical and conceptual basis for this study. Data from transcripts of semi structured interviews with 17 participants were coded and inductively analysed. This led to the emergence of seven justice-related themes about the country’s electoral system. Results revealed that massive youth unemployment, ethnic affiliations promoting tribal politics, election campaign strategies and their financing, and a loose and unaccountable security management system stand out in explaining the electoral-justice-related traits of youth-led violence in Kenyan elections. Positive social change can be achieved by instituting policy, practice, and attitudinal changes in relation to the identified traits. This study may provide useful information to political leaders aspiring to win elections through peaceful means.