Lack of participation in politics may be caused directly by discriminatory regulations or indirectly by the workings of bureaucracy, which may tend to make individuals or individual groups feel that action is not worth while since it will be blocked in the bureaucratic process. State controlled systems, while encouraging economic and social cohesion, provide no scope for democratic protest, whereas in democracies apathy may result from the dilution of proposals in order to obtain consensus. Lack of communication contributes to general apathy. Liberal ideology thinks in terms of the citizen's lack of representation in decision centres or his non-use of it. Socialist theory emphasizes that lack of political participation can occur at all levels of society.
Existing political rights may not be used because of political ignorance, ignorance concerning legislation, fear of authority, the need to form pressure groups rather than act as an individual, lack of information, or disinterest. It may cause or be a result of dictatorship, political repression and political alienation, or derive from a high standard of living or the effects of corruption in blocking political participation.
Political apathy or lack of participation in politics, may lead to anarchy, fanaticism, and political, social or national disintegration. The underutilization of political rights undermines the practice and principles of democracy and may in extreme cases lead to dictatorship.