Critical civic engagement among urban youth

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Discipline 1 Developmental psychology
Discipline 2 Political science
Publication Title Critical civic engagement among urban youth
Description In recent years, researchers have identified civic engagement as an important element of youth development (Flanagan & Faison, 2001; Youniss, 1999). Particular attention has been directed towards adolescence as a critical period in the emergence of a civic identity. During adolescence, youth begin to transition out of the role of beneficiaries within a community into the roles and responsibilities of active citizens (Hart & Atkins, 2002). Some researchers have identified predictors of youth involvement in volunteer service and community organizing, such as socioeconomic status and family values (Flanagan et al., 1998; Hart, Atkins, & Ford, 1998). Other researchers have focused on developmental outcomes associated with community service, such as improved self-esteem and sense of social responsibility (Conrad & Hedin, 1992; Pancer, Rose-Krasnor, & Loiselle, in press). While this work has provided important and useful insights, little is known about how youth interpret their social context and how this sense-making is related to their emerging civic awareness and involvement. Rather than focus on predictors or correlates of youth civic involvement, in this study we use interpretive methods to find out how young people involved in an after school program reasoned about their social and political environment.

Our paper begins by reviewing literature about the civic engagement of urban youth1. We then describe the specific research questions and methodology that organize the study, as well as provide an overview of the after school program where the research took place. The remainder of the paper discusses youth's perspectives on their local social context and their efforts to respond through research and advocacy to problems they identified.

Publication Year 2003
Publication Author Ben Kirshner, Karen Strobel, Maria Fernandez
Publication Type Journal Article
Publisher Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education
Major Funders
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