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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.
This chapter aims to provide insight into conceptualizing and understanding the experience of civic engagement through voluntary service for high school students in the…
This chapter aims to provide insight into conceptualizing and understanding the experience of civic engagement through voluntary service for high school students in the United States today. Unlike prior studies of youth civic life that are predominately quantitative and rely on correlates of youth civic engagement, this qualitative research explores the meanings and rationale youth attribute to being members of their communities. Youth service work emerges in two general forms. Some young people have an altruistic orientation: they are dedicated to help the less fortunate in their communities, but at the same time, they lack strong ideological investment. Other students have an activist orientation: they are committed to activist politics, but cannot connect their political concerns to school-based service. These two orientations to service develop in the context of school programs that encourage – or require – episodic single acts of volunteerism as a form of civic education. Diffuse associational forms and loose, individually based networks thus shape the context and content of youth volunteerism. These associational forms imply the practice of “networked democracy” by young Americans. Although networked associational ties offer young people weaker forms of collective organization, they also allow students to connect to and experiment with many different ideas, issues, and forms of expression.
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…
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.
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).
Mandi Bane is a Ph.D. candidate, in the Department of Sociology, University of Michigan. Her areas of academic interest are social change, globalization, race and ethnicity, comparative-historical and ethnographic methods, social movements, and Latin America. Her dissertation is a multiscalar, historically grounded study of indigenous social movement organizations in Ecuador that contributes to the literature on multiculturalism, development, cultural citizenship, radical democracy, and neoliberalism.