Young Citizens Participation: Empirical Testing of a Conceptual Model

Young Citizens Participation: Empirical Testing of a Conceptual Model

Revista Académica  - Youth & Society

(Disponible solo en inglés:) A growing body of literature from different disciplines addresses concepts and measurement of citizenship. The present article seeks to contribute to this field by examining the issue of youth citizenship from a comparative international perspective and proposing a simplified conceptual model that can be operationalized. This model includes a community dimension, which refers to individual’s relationship with their community associations, and a civic dimension, concerning institutional processes such as voting and/or political activism. The model was tested using multigroup confirmatory factor analysis and measurement equivalence for eighth-grade students (n = 139.875) across 38 countries that participated in the International Civic and Citizenship Study (2009). Our results find support for the proposed conceptual model and its invariance across countries, and we discuss the implications for theory and further research.

Participation in the public sphere is a cornerstone of citizenship in modern democratic systems, ranging from liberal conceptions of democracy based on voting to more diverse current forms of participation (della Porta, 2013). Nevertheless, the increasing diversification of citizen participation repertoires, particularly in the last decade, presents new challenges for understanding changing participation patterns (van Deth, 2001) in light of certain paradoxical characteristics. That paradox refers, on one hand, by decline in participation and disaffected attitudes regarding the electoral process and partisan membership, and on the other, by the emergence of newer forms of political activity as contentious participation or involvement in different types of social movements (Dalton, 2008; Ekman & Amnå, 2012; Putnam, 2001; Stolle & Hooghe, 2005; Wattenberg, 2009). These changing patterns of participation demand wider conceptual models of citizen participation as well as new approaches to operationalization and measurement (Albacete, 2014; Amnå, Ekström, Kerr, & Stattin, 2009; Ekman & Amnå, 2012; Fox, 2014; Hooghe, Hosch-Dayican, & van Deth, 2014; Theocharis & van Deth, 2016; Turner, 1990; van Deth, 2014).

New forms of participation are particularly salient in the case of young populations (Albacete, 2014; Hay, 2007; Marien, Hooghe, & Quintelier, 2010), whose lack of participation along traditional lines (such as voting) is becoming a global issue for the future functioning of current democratic systems (Abendschön, 2013; Albacete, 2014; Cox & Castillo, 2015; van Deth, Abendschön, & Vollmar, 2011). The upcoming generational replacement has led social scientists as well as national and international agencies to prioritize understanding of political behavior among younger cohorts (Amnå et al., 2009; Blais & Rubenson, 2013; Flanagan & Levine, 2010; Flanagan & Sherrod, 1998; Gidengil, Wass, & Valaste, 2016; Hooghe, 2004; Keating, 2014; McIntosh & Youniss, 2010; Niemi & Hepburn, 1995; Quintelier, 2015). However, current approaches fail to link theoretical conceptualization of youth citizen participation to empirical measurement, as they focus mainly on adult population and the increasing complexity of participation turn the prospects of operationalization and measurement an increasing endeavor (Ekman & Amnå, 2012; Hoskins & Mascherini, 2009; Theocharis & van Deth, 2016; van Deth, 2001, 2014). Attending to this situation, the present article attempts to develop a simplified framework for studying youth citizen participation both conceptually and empirically. The analysis is informed by two research questions:

  • Research Question 1: What are the main dimensions of a broad concept of young citizens’ participation?
  • Research Question 2: How can this concept of youth citizen participation be comparably measured?
Como Citar

Miranda, D. ,Castillo, J. C., Sandoval-Hernandez, A. (2017). Young Citizens Participation: Empirical Testing of a Conceptual Model. Youth & Society. Disponible en: