Affordable Access

Youth in action: A study of developing citizen identity

[email protected]
Publication Date
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (0534)
  • Law
  • Linguistics


This qualitative study of an urban youth-led organization presents, from the point of view of the youth culture, how the organization contributes to the developing citizen identity of its members. The participants range in age from 13 to 21, represent a marginal, at-risk population, attend public and private schools in the metropolitan area, and run programs for their peers focusing on healthy behaviors and non-violence. The Board of Directors consists of 17 youth and 3 adults and employs an executive director and 3 other adult staff. The group raises money, to sustain programs, through fundraising and grant writing. They raised over $500,000 in one year to pay for renovations for their recently purchased headquarters. The methods used to collect data while on site for 2 years as a participant observer included field notes, interviews, videotaping and audiotaping of events, photography and document collection. Using discourse analysis, a list of Frequently Used Terms and Common Core Terms used by the group were identified. The terms were categorized as Youth/Leadership Development or Civic Discourse/Civic Deliberation. One social action accomplishment, the development of the ArtPark, was analyzed, as was a retreat for rising and experienced leaders. Findings included: (1) this group was a discourse community with its own culture, (2) citizen identity developed as the youth learned and practiced leadership skills, (3) Being change agents for social justice was a driving force for the youth and organization. These 3 major themes were a dynamic force empowering youth and helping them develop citizen identity. This youth civic engagement example is a model of participatory citizenship that educators might find helpful.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.