Understanding Civic Engagement among Youth in Diverse Contexts
Karakos, Holly Lynn
Research suggests that youth civic engagement is beneficial for individuals and democratic societies, and research in this field has proliferated in recent decades. This abundance of research, however, has also come with challenges, including a lack of conceptual clarity around youth civic engagement. The present paper addresses this confusion and suggests useful tools for moving forward. The first paper presents a conceptual analysis of youth civic engagement, proposing a new conceptualization to create definitional boundaries yet still allow contextual responsiveness of this term, specifically around the concepts of community and the greater good. The second paper provides a quantitative exploration of the relationship between context and the manifestation of youth civic engagement through a multilevel latent profile analysis of data from the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study. The results of this study identify profiles of current civic participation and intentions for future protest and political participation that differ across countries and are predicted by family characteristics. The third paper presents a qualitative exploration of civic engagement among students attending recovery high schools. The results suggest that students are actively involved in giving back to their communities, particularly their school and recovery communities, through civic engagement and general prosocial behaviors. Taken together, these three studies highlight the importance of achieving greater conceptual clarity in our understanding of youth civic engagement in addition to the importance of situating this understanding in the context of youths’ particular communities.