Similarities and Differences in Adolescents’ Organized and Civic Activity Networks across Rural and Non-Rural Communities

  • Benjamin OosterhoffEmail author
  • Aaron Metzger
  • Lauren Alvis
Empirical Research


Youth are often involved in multiple organized and civic activities simultaneously, resulting in complex patterns or “networks” of participation. Little research has examined the network structure of adolescents’ organized and civic participation and whether these networks vary across communities. Examining activity networks may help identify specific forms of participation that are more widely and strongly connected with other activities, and may thus provide a gateway for becoming multiply involved. Youth (N= 902; Mage = 15.90; 55.7% female) from a rural (n= 476) and non-rural (n= 426) community completed measures assessing engagement in 25 civic and organized activities. Network analysis indicated that activities in the rural community had greater network density relative to the non-rural community. Volunteering to clean up the neighborhood was most central to both networks. Church attendance and community sports were more central for the rural network, whereas protesting and school arts were more central for the non-rural network. These findings suggest that volunteer activities may serve as a “hub” for organized and civic activity participation and highlight similarities and differences in the co-occurrence of activities across two distinct communities.


Authors’ Contributions

B.O. conceived of the study, participated in acquisition of the data, performed statistical analyses and interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript; A.M. participated in acquisition of the data, helped interpret the data, and drafted the manuscript; L.A. helped to draft the manuscript and interpret the data. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Data Sharing and Declaration

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyWest Virginia UniversityMorgantonUSA
  3. 3.Baylor College of Medicine/Texas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA

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