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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Examination of Political and Civic Participation Among Urban Adolescents
by White, Kathryn Weitz, Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2011, 244; 3469896
Abstract (Summary)

Political and civic participation by urban adolescents is often portrayed as very low, especially as compared to participation by middle-aged and older adults. Many worry that inner-city teens do not have the opportunities or conditions to develop and demonstrate political and civic skills. This dissertation presents research based on surveys of 256 predominantly low income and minority high school juniors. It finds that a majority of students are affiliated with one or more groups, frequently attend religious services, and volunteer. However, fewer students are participating in electoral and political contact activities. Paper one examines four types of participation by 256 urban students, and breaks each type of participation down by demographic characteristics. Paper two uses the Civic Volunteerism Model to examine how personal resources, recruitment receptivity, and cognitive engagement are associated with participation. Being African American, having a deliberative disposition, and exhibiting higher levels of generativity are positively associated with being active in political and civic activities. Paper three builds on the finding that deliberative disposition is associated with participation and explores urban adolescents' political talk in three descriptive studies. Study one examines the conditions and opportunities students have to engage in political talk, how often they discuss political and social issues with teachers and parents, and which topics they discuss. This study demonstrates that deliberative disposition is associated with open classroom climate and discussing issues with both parents and teachers. Only a quarter of students report discussing politics in school more than once or twice a month. Study two examines how students deliberate using qualitative and quantitative analysis. This study finds students and observers disagree in their perceptions of the deliberation. Study three reports student responses to those barriers, recruiters, and interest areas that might influence future participation. Overall, the findings in these three papers demonstrate the usefulness of the Civic Volunteerism Model for understanding adolescent participation; the importance of generativity and deliberative disposition; and the opportunities that exist for increasing political talk by urban students.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Cook, Fay L.
Commitee: McAdams, Dan P., Spillane, James P.
School: Northwestern University
Department: Social Policy to Education and Social Policy - Human Development and Social Policy
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 72/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational sociology, Political science
Keywords: Adolescents, Civic participation, Deliberative discussion, Engagement, Political participation
Publication Number: 3469896
ISBN: 978-1-124-86281-1
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