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Critical Youth Engagement: Participatory Action Research and Organizing

Image is illustrative. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Drawing on the intersections of youth organizing and participatory action research, this chapter explores what we are calling critical youth engagement, in which young people link social inquiry to collective action. Using one participatory action research project and three youth organizing projects as case studies, we propose key elements of critical youth engagement including: the recognition that youth carry knowledge and expertise, and that youth and adults can engage together in serious inquiry, the understanding that intersectionality is crucial, that research should be linked to organizing and action, and that projects and efforts should include youth leaders and adult allies. We detail our theoretical and methodological approach for youth participatory action research and we consider broad implications and consequences of this approach for social science research on youth, adults, institutions, social movements and youth policy, over time.