What Motivates Youth Civic Involvement?
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Though the topic of youth civic involvement is increasingly popular in social science research, the question of why some youth are civically involved while others are not is not yet well understood. In this paper, a developmental contextualist approach is used to address the following questions: What motivations do youth report for civic involvement? Do motivations differ across school contexts? A qualitative interview study using an in-depth semi-structured interview approach with 21 diverse youth was used to investigate questions concerned youth civic involvements and motivation. Interviews were coded using both theory-based content analysis methods and open coding in an iterative coding process. Results suggest five categories of motivations and two categories of de-motivators that emerged from youth reports of their reasons for civic involvement. There is variation in levels, types, and motivations for youth civic involvement both across and within groups with similar school contexts. An emergent finding is that civic motivations likely differ from motivations for other youth involvements. Implications are that civic motivations need to be understood in context and such understanding points to new insights regarding how opportunities can be structured to better facilitate civic involvement.