ERIC Number: EJ996416
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 47
Youth Activists, Youth Councils, and Constrained Democracy
Taft, Jessica K.; Gordon, Hava R.
Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, v8 n1 p87-100 Mar 2013
This article provides a critical examination of a common form of adult attempts to promote civic engagement among young people, namely, youth advisory councils. While youth councils have been widely celebrated as an effective way to integrate young people into political processes, little research has explored why some politically active youth choose to leave, or refuse to join, youth councils. Based on two qualitative studies of politically active teens throughout North and Latin America, the authors argue that teenage activists possess valuable dissident knowledge of, and critical perspectives on, the potential for youth advisory councils to promote youth political power. We argue that young activists understand democracy in ways that are fundamentally different from that offered to them by youth councils. Youth activists put forth a theory of democracy that emphasizes authority and impact, not just voice; they understand democracy as representing collective concerns and perceive youth councils as elitist and nonrepresentative; and they emphasize the value of controversy and contentious politics while expressing anxiety that youth councils can function as modes of social control that tame and channel youth dissent, rather than opportunities to foster youth political power.
Descriptors: Adolescents, Foreign Countries, Social Control, Democracy, Young Adults, Political Power, Activism, Citizen Participation, Advisory Committees, Qualitative Research, Politics, Criticism, Socialization
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North America