Youth civic engagement occupies a central space in applied developmental science. However, understanding of the processes and contexts in which early adolescents become civically engaged is still limited. This study draws on a sample of approximately 4,000 students from 11 urban middle schools in Tennessee to address several gaps in the civic engagement literature.
First, we use latent class analysis to identify types of civic engagement in early adolescence.
Second, we explore associations between types of engagement and youth behavioral and academic outcomes.
Third, we focus on urban youth. A latent class analysis using survey items suggests a three-class structure for civic engagement in urban middle schools.
One distinction is between students who are engaged and those who are not. Another distinction is that, among the engaged groups, one is engaged both behaviorally and attitudinally ( social justice actors), whereas another has strong civic attitudes but infrequent civic behaviors ( social justice sympathizers).