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Since we began work on this volume in 2011, images of youth who are politically and civically engaged have populated news stories. Youth activists played key roles in the social movements that sparked and spread through Africa and the Middle East in the “Arab Spring” of 2011 and 2012. In Norway, politically engaged youth attending a summer camp run by the ruling Labour Party became the victims of a mass shooting in July of 2011. Students in Chile, Mexico City, and Quebec took to the streets in order to challenge the rising costs of education and to organize for improvements to their colleges and universities. Undocumented youth in the United States publicly shared their stories and lobbied for passage of the DREAM Act. And local newspapers throughout the United States continued to celebrate youth who were honored for their volunteer service with awards and scholarships.
Purpose – This paper aims to provide insight into high school students’ understanding and experience of citizenship and civic engagement in the United States…
Purpose – This paper aims to provide insight into high school students’ understanding and experience of citizenship and civic engagement in the United States today.Methodological approach – To supplement literature that reports the causes and correlates of youth civic engagement, this qualitative study explores the form and meaning of citizenship to young Americans. Drawing on observations and interviews with 116 high school students aged 14–19 years, this study explores how youth construct the meaning of citizenship and civic engagement.Findings – I find that race and racial identity are emergent in young people's construction of citizenship. Youth articulate the status of citizen on the basis of “privilege” and feel fortunate to be American. Forms of civic engagement vary by race with white students positioning themselves as helpers and delineating lower income minorities as “others” while also engaging in civic activity out of individual motivations and weak community connections. Minority youth express a desire to stay out of trouble, but also contest the boundaries of citizenship through forms of engagement that connect them to community.Value of paper – This paper contributes to understanding how race is emergent for young people's definitions of citizenship and civic actions. In addition to demonstrating how the categories of race and citizen are mutually constructed, it shows the value of looking beyond simple measurements of civic activity and exploring the meaning of youth civic work to gain insight into contemporary youth and democracy.
Loretta E. Bass is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma. She earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Connecticut and completed a two-year appointment within the Fertility and Family Branch of the Population Division at the U.S. Census Bureau. Dr. Bass focuses her research on children and stratification issues, and has published her research in Population Research and Policy Review, Sociological Inquiry, Sociological Focus, Political Behavior, Anthropology of Work Review, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Sociological Studies of Children and Youth, Journal of Reproductive Medicine, Journal of Sociology and Social Work, International Journal of Sexual Health, and Current Sociology. Prior to becoming the Sociological Studies of Children and Youth Series Editor, she served as co-editor for two years and as a guest-editor for a special international volume in 2005. She has also published a book, Child Labor in Sub-Saharan Africa (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2004), which offers a window on the lives of child workers in 43 African countries. She currently serves as Past-Chair of the American Sociological Association's (ASA) Children and Youth Section and as the President of Research Committee 53 on the Sociology of Childhood within the International Sociological Association (ISA).
Purpose – To examine how youth appropriate and resist elements of the developmental discourse as they construct and enforce dating norms.Methodology – In 2007, we…
Purpose – To examine how youth appropriate and resist elements of the developmental discourse as they construct and enforce dating norms.
Methodology – In 2007, we conducted participant observation at a middle school summer camp for youth in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Youth ranged in age from 11 to 17 years old.
Findings – Youth borrowed the idea of a normative sequence of behaviors arranged by age from the developmental discourse to establish a set of age-appropriate dating norms for all campers, regardless of chronological age. Youth enforced these norms by treating other dating actions as too young or too old. By tying this linear trajectory to social age instead of chronological age, youth creatively altered the apparently rigid developmental discourse and established dating norms which addressed their own values and concerns. Youth established dating norms and maximized opportunities for pleasurable, collective discussions about dating and romantic relationships. Although the developmental discourse influenced the norms in this peer culture, we argue that the small, heterogeneous composition of the camp facilitated youths' ability to appropriate, refashion, and resist the developmental discourse.