Civic and Political Participation of Adolescents: A Lifestyle Analysis

Saturday, 4 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.3.05 (Clement House)
Reynaldo Gustavo Rivera, InterMedia Social Innovation NGO, Rome, Italy; InterMedia Social Innovation NGO, Rome, Italy; University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain
David Santos, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
The European Commission’s recommendation “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage” highlights the relevance of children’s participation and rights enforcement to tackle social exclusion and inequalities. Social participation, also known as civic or community engagement, plays a key role in determining the level of democratic life, social capital and cohesion in a country (Hart, UNICEF, & International Child Development Centre, 1992; Putnam, 2000), influencing the resources offered by the context for personal thriving (Basarab, 2012). Moreover, social participation plays a key role in predicting positive youth development. The current research examined how children and adolescents’ relational lifestyles influenced their participation in political and civic activities. In doing so, we provide a multi-dimensional approach based in a relational reflexive perspective and lifestyle theory that considers the roles of social structure and agency morphogenetic powers to the study of the factors related with children’s social participation, based on six children’s lifestyles factors (i.e. family dialogue, risky behaviours, cultural activities, civic values, family supervision, and peer group relationships). Using data from an International survey that included 6,130 participants (2198 Spanish, 3932 Italian, Mage = 13.8), this study modeled a multiple linear regression with two outcomes: political participation and civic participation. Political participation was measured with two questions regarding their participation in an ecological organization or in political activities such as a student assembly or political party. Civic participation was measured with two questions regarding their participation in volunteer activities or in non-governmental organizations or charities. Results indicated that relational lifestyles (family dialogue, risky behaviours and out-of-school cultural activities) are positively related to political and civic participation among children and adolescents. On the contrary, some peer group relationships decreased their social participation in those key dimensions. In conclusion, this research provide some insights on how inequalities within societies can be tackled putting children’s rights at the center of the policies, and promoting their social participation as citizens.