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ERIC Number: EJ872460
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Dec
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 17
ISSN: ISSN-0037-7732
Why We Need to Learn More about Youth Civic Engagement
Youniss, James
Social Forces, v88 n2 p971-976 Dec 2009
In his book, "Freedom Summer," Doug McAdam demonstrated the long-term impact of young people's participation in a collective movement aimed at rectifying centuries of racial injustice. Coupled with James Fendrich's book, "Ideal Citizens," about black and white college-age participants in desegregating Tallahassee, Florida, the findings outline a possible process whereby civic-minded adults are formed. Its features include: (1) youth as an opportune moment in the life cycle; (2) organized action as the structure; (3) material, social and cognitive resources for support; and (4) participation for a just cause as a major driving force. These are not the only characteristics which spawn civic engagement, but in combination, they are powerful ones which occur across a range of longitudinal studies. Teach For America (TFA) is a program which contains some of these same features. Recent college graduates agree to teach disadvantaged students in schools with low resources under the supportive sponsorship of an organization built on the principle that all children merit quality education. This principle may lack the historical gravitas of the civil rights movement, but inequity in quality education has proven to be an intractable issue that contemporary society has yet to solve. In this respect, TFA surely represents a just cause around which youth can rally. It should not be surprising, therefore, that graduates of the TFA two-year experience think and act like especially engaged citizens. They hold positive attitudes toward civic engagement. Lack of civic engagement in recent youth cohorts can be placed in an even broader context of shifts in the familiar life cycle that has changed the texture of the early adult years. Lack of civic engagement for this age group might be attributed to factors including extended schooling, lack of permanent residence, or the nature of temporary rather than career-oriented work.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A