Young people and active citizenship: an investigation
The past decade has been witness to a growing concern with the political, moral and social capacity of young people to demonstrate ‘active citizenship’. Alongside the introduction of citizenship education in schools there has been evidence of increased political and public anxiety about how young people integrate within their local communities. All of this has taken place in the context of broader social policy debates about how individuals demonstrate social responsibility in late modern, advanced liberal democracies. This study investigated how young people define and experience active citizenship in their everyday, real world settings. It comprised workshops and focus groups with 93 young people aged 14-16 living in the East Midlands. Using an adaptive theory design, the investigation utilised definitions generated by young people to build an applied theory of active citizenship. Young people in this study defined active citizenship in terms of membership and status, social responsibility and to a lesser extent, political literacy. Through a process of deliberation, they determined six concepts to be most important in thinking about active citizenship. These were ‘rights’; ‘responsibilities’; ‘care for others’; ‘control’; ‘making decisions’, and ‘respect’. These concepts were explored in relation to the everyday experiences of young people. Young people experience active citizenship differently within and between each context of their lives (proximate, community and institutional levels) showing high degrees of related skills and awareness. Whilst communities and institutions offer some opportunities for young people to test and develop citizenship identities, they also present significant barriers.
Research Group : Participation & Social Justice
- PhD