Institute for Research on Children, Youth and Family
Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University
Psychological aspects of adolescent civic participation (GA14-20582S)
Research team: prof Petr Macek, Jan Šerek, PhD., Tomotaka Umemura, Ph.D., Zuzana Petrovičová, Hana Macháčková
This project aims to examine psychological processes and characteristics underlying the formation of civic orientations and civic engagement in middle and late adolescence (age 14-17). In order for democracy to function, it is vital for the people to assume active role as citizens. Voting is only one of many activities that people engage in to express their opinions. Young people, who haven’t reach the voting age yet but are interested in social and political issues, utilize different forms of civic/political participation, such as expressing one’s voice online and participation in particular civic organizations. However, not everyone is interested in being actively involved in current social or political issues. It is therefore crucial to examine, which factors enhance or hinder adolescent civic participation, their views about society and their role within.
The main focus is on the experiences from proximal social contexts, such as school, peer community and family and the interplay between the school experiences and adolescents’ personal characteristics. Our goal is to describe how the experiences in proximal contexts contribute to adolescents’ civic development and civic socialization. Project is planned for years 2014-2016 and target group is students of middle/high schools at the age of 14-17 years.
- Civic participation. We conceptualize civic engagement broadly via levels of civic knowledge, civic participation (e.g. volunteering, participation in demonstrations, signing petitions at schools), and online participation. We are interested in the experiences that young people have with these activities and related psychosocial characteristics.
- School and Family. We are interested in the role of school and family in forming civic orientations and participation. These proximal social environments can serve as “playgrounds” where young people acquire their personal meanings of civic sphere and experiences with authority figures.
- Personal characteristics. The effects of diverse social contexts on young people can vary with respect to individuals’ specific configurations of personal dispositions. Thus, we are interested in whether the same contextual effects can produce different civic outcomes in young people with different characteristics; or whether the same civic outcomes can be reached by different trajectories, with respect to different dispositions of young people.
To better understand the interplay between aforementioned factors we propose the longitudinal design that will allow us to capture the changes in civic orientations and participation. Number of focus groups will be conducted to explore in depth motivations and experiences with civic participation among highly active students.
Project plan and dissemination:
First wave of data collection is planned for May-June 2014, when we will collect data from 2000 students. Second wave is planned for October-November 2015. We will also conduct number of focus groups, following the first wave data collection (fall 2014).
The results will be published in academic journals and presented at psychological conferences. Schools will be informed about the project in reports they will receive after each data collection.
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