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ERIC Number: ED531694
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 122
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1094-5695-0
Adolescent Reasoning about Civic and Political Engagement
Middaugh, Ellen
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
The purpose of this study is to investigate relevant factors in adolescents' decision-making when presented with opportunities to participate in civic and political activities. Sixty-one CA high school seniors were presented with hypothetical scenarios in which a young person is asked to give up time to participate in activities to address issues of public concern. Interviews were designed to examine the role of four factors in participants' assessments of opportunities to participate in civic and political activities. Activities presented varied by content of the issue being addressed (issues of social welfare vs. community building) and structure and goals of the activity (volunteering vs. traditional politics; traditional politics vs. direct action). Follow-up questions were asked to assess the extent to which participants reason about these activities in moral terms and the role that moral salience plays in participants' assessments of activities. The study also examines whether ethnic identity is related to participants' assessments of or reasoning about the activities presented. Participants' responses yielded few group differences in reasoning by issue content, expressing generally positive attitudes toward all forms of volunteerism but little sense that these types of activities should be seen as obligatory. Contrary to expectations, youth did not express a preference for issue-focused volunteerism over community-building volunteerism. Participants' evaluations of different kinds of activities (volunteerism vs. politics and traditional politics vs. direct action) suggest little difference in their views of activities designed to help on an individual and policy level when those activities share certain practical qualities. Direct action was viewed less positively than other activities. Analysis of participants' reasons for their evaluations of activities highlighted the multi-faceted nature of civic and political engagement. In line with prior studies suggesting that civic and political engagement is an expression of "every day morality," participants who were interested in activities or more likely to view them as obligatory were more likely to focus on the moral consequences of activities than those who were ambivalent or negative. However, moral considerations were presented in a minority of cases; participants' reasoning suggests the coordination of personal, social and practical considerations in their decision-making as well. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A