Skip to main content

Family Affluence, School and Neighborhood Contexts and Adolescents’ Civic Engagement: A Cross-National Study

Abstract

Research on youth civic engagement focuses on individual-level predictors. We examined individual- and school-level characteristics, including family affluence, democratic school social climate and perceived neighborhood social capital, in their relation to civic engagement of 15-year-old students. Data were taken from the 2006 World Health Organization Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey. A sample of 8,077 adolescents in 10th grade from five countries (Belgium, Canada, Italy, Romania, England) were assessed. Multilevel models were analyzed for each country and across the entire sample. Results showed that family affluence, democratic school climate and perceived neighborhood social capital positively related to participation in community organizations. These links were stronger at the aggregate contextual than individual level and varied by country. Canadian youth participated most and Romanian youth least of the five countries. Gender predicted engagement in two countries (girls participate more in Canada, boys in Italy). Findings showed significant contributions of the social environment to adolescents’ engagement in their communities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. The index, developed by the Institute of Social Studies, synthesizes 200 indicators of community life, participation and intergroup relations into five indicators and allows evaluation of how different societies across the world perform on five dimensions of social development.

References

  • Aarø, L. E., Wold, B., Kannas, L., & Rimpelä, M. (1986). Health behaviour in schoolchildren. A WHO cross-national survey. Health Promotion, 1, 17–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Albanesi, C., Cicognani, E., & Zani, B. (2007). Sense of community, civic engagement and social well-being in Italian Adolescents. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 17, 387–406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Allodi, M. W. (2002). A two-level analysis of classroom climate in relation to social context, group composition, and organization of special support. Learning Environments Research, 5(3), 253–274.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atkins, R., & Hart, D. (2003). Neighborhoods, adults, and the development of civic identity in urban youth. Applied Developmental Science, 7(3), 156–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bordieu, P. (1985). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), The handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood.

    Google Scholar 

  • Boyce, W., Davies, D., Gallupe, O., & Shelley, D. (2008). Adolescent risk taking, neighborhood social capital, and health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 246–252.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Boyce, W., Torsheim, T., Currie, C., & Zambon, A. (2006). The Family Affluence Scale as a measure of national wealth: Validity of an adolescent self-report measure. Social Indicators Research, 78, 473–487.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, B., Perkins, D. D., & Brown, G. (2003). Place attachment in a revitalizing neighborhood: Individual and block levels of analysis. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23, 259–271.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, D. E. (2008). Voice in the classroom: How an open classroom climate fosters political engagement among adolescents. Political Behavior, 30, 437–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Catalano, R. F., & Hawkins, J. D. (1996). The social development model: A theory of antisocial behaviour. In J. D. Hawkins (Ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current theories (pp. 149–197). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cicognani, E., Pirini, C., Keyes, C., Joshanloo, M., Rostami, R., & Nosratabadi, M. (2008). Social participation, sense of community and social well being: A study on American, Italian and Iranian university students. Social Indicators Research, 89(1), 97–112.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coulton, C., & Irwin, M. (2009). Parental and community level correlates of participation in out-of-school activities among children living in low income neighborhoods. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 300–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Currie, C., Nic Gabhainn, S., Godeau, E., et al. (Eds.). (2008). Inequalities in young people’s health: Health behaviour in school-aged children international report from the 2005/2006 survey. Edinburgh: Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of Edinburgh.

    Google Scholar 

  • Currie, C., Samdal, O., Boyce, W., & Smith, R. (Eds.). (2002). Health behaviour in school-aged children: A WHO cross-national study. Research protocol for the 2001/2002 survey. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.

    Google Scholar 

  • Da Silva, L., Sanson, A., Smart, D., & Toumbourou, J. (2004). Civic responsibility among Australian adolescents: Testing two competing models. Journal of Community Psychology, 32(3), 229–255.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Diez-Roux, A. V. (2007). Environnement résidentiel et santé: état de la question et perspectives pour le futur. Revue d’Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique, 55(1), 13–21.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Durlak, J. A., Taylor, R. D., Kawashima, K., Pachan, M. K., DuPre, E. P., Celio, C. I., et al. (2007). Effects of positive youth development programs on school, family, and community systems. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39(3–4), 269–286.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Erikson, E. H. (1968). Identity, youth and crisis. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Erikson, E. H. (1985). Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fauth, R. C., Roth, J. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007). Does the neighborhood context alter the link between youth’s after-school time activities and developmental outcomes? A multilevel analysis. Developmental Psychology, 43(3), 760–777.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flanagan, C. A., Bowes, J. M., Jonsson, B., Csapo, B., & Sheblanova, E. (1998). Ties that bind: Correlates of adolescents’ civic commitments in seven countries. Journal of Social Issues, 54(3), 457–475.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flanagan, C. A., Cumsille, P., Gill, S., & Gallay, L. S. (2007). School and community climates and civic commitments: Patterns for ethnic minority and majority students. Journal of Educational Psychology Copyright, 99(2), 421–431.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Flanagan, C. A., & Sherrod, L. R. (1998). Youth political development: An introduction. Journal of Social Issues, 54(3), 447–456.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fredricks, J. A., & Eccles, J. S. (2006). Is extracurricular participation associated with beneficial outcomes? Concurrent and longitudinal relations. Developmental Psychology, 42(4), 698–713.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Furnham, A., & Stacey, B. (1991). Young people’s understanding of society. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • GHK. (2010). Volunteering in the European Union. Brussels: European Commission Directorate General Education and Culture.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hahn, C. (1998). Becoming political: Comparative perspectives on citizenship education. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Havighurst, R. J. (1972). Developmental tasks and education (3rd ed.). New York: David McKay.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hooghe, M., & Claes, E. (2009). Civic education in Europe: Perspectives from the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. In J. Youniss & P. Levine (Eds.), Engaging young people in civic life (pp. 219–234). Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jencks, C., & Mayer, S. E. (1990). The social consequences of growing up in a poor neighborhood. In L. E. Lynn & M. G. H. McGeary (Eds.), Inner-city poverty in the United States (pp. 111–186). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, M. K., Beebe, T., Mortimer, J. T., & Snyder, M. (1998). Volunteerism in Adolescence: A process perspective. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 8(3), 309–330.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kawachi, I., Kennedy, B. P., & Glass, R. (1999). Social capital and self-rated health: A contextual analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 89(8), 1187–1193.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leventhal, T., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2000). The neighborhoods they live in: The effects of neighborhood residence on child and adolescent outcomes. Psychological Bulletin, 126(2), 309–337.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leventhal, T., Dupèrè, V., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2009). Neighborhood influences on adolescent development. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (3rd ed., pp. 411–443). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Loder, T. L., & Hirsch, B. J. (2003). Inner-city youth development organizations: The salience of peer ties among early adolescent girls. Applied Developmental Science, 7(1), 2–12.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Newmann, F. M. (1990). A test of higher-order thinking in social studies: Persuasive writing on constitutional issues using the NAEP approach. Social Education, 54(6), 369–373.

    Google Scholar 

  • Newton, K. (2007). Social and political trust. In R. Dalton & H. D. Klingemann (Eds.), Oxford handbook of political behaviour (pp. 342–362). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Pancer, S. M., & Pratt, M. W. (1999). Social and family determinants of community service involvement in Canadian youth. In M. Yates & J. Youniss (Eds.), Community service and civic engagement in youth: International perspectives (pp. 32–55). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Perkins, D. D., Hughey, J., & Speer, P. W. (2002). Community psychology perspectives on social capital theory and community development practice. Journal of the Community Development Society, 33(1), 33–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pretty, G. M. H., Conroy, C., Dugay, J., Fowler, K., & Williams, D. (1996). Sense of community and its relevance to adolescents of all ages. Journal of Community Psychology, 24(4), 365–379.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Prezza, M., Amici, M., Roberti, T., & Tedeschi, G. (2001). Sense of community referred to the whole town: Its relations with neighboring, loneliness, life satisfaction, and area of residence. Journal of Community Psychology, 29(1), 29–52.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Putnam, R. D. (2000). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community (p. 2000). New York: Touchstone.

    Google Scholar 

  • Quane, J. M., & Rankin, B. H. (2006). Does it pay to participate? Neighborhood-based organizations and the social development of urban adolescents. Children and Youth Services Review, 28, 1229–1250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raudenbush, S. W., & Bryk, A. S. (2002). Hierarchical Linear Models (2nd ed.). London: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Romano, E., Tremblay, R. E., Boulerice, B., & Swisher, R. (2005). Multilevel correlates of childhood physical aggression and prosocial behaviour. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 33(5), 565–578.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schmidt, J. A., Shumow, L., & Kackar, H. (2007). Adolescents’ participation in service activities and its impact on academic, behavioral, and civic outcomes. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 127–140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sherrod, L. R., Flanagan, C., & Youniss, J. (2002). Dimensions of citizenship and opportunities for youth development: The what, why, when, where, and who of citizenship development. Applied Developmental Science, 6(4), 264–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Shinn, M., & Toohey, S. M. (2003). Community contexts of human welfare. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 427–459.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Syvertsen, A. K., Stout, M. D., & Flanagan, C. A. (2009). Using elections as teachable moments: A randomized evaluation of the student voices civic education program. American Journal of Education, 116, 33–68.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Taylor, T., & Pancer, S. M. (2007). Community service experiences and commitment to volunteering. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 320–345.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Torney-Purta, J., Barber, C. H., & Wilkenfeld, B. (2007). Latino Adolescents’ civic development in the United States: Research results from the IEA Civic Education Study. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 36, 111–125.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Torney-Purta, J., Wilkenfeld, B., & Barber, C. (2008). How adolescents in 27 countries understand, support, and practice human rights. Journal of Social Issues, 64(4), 857–880.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vieno, A., Nation, M., Perkins, D. D., & Santinello, M. (2007a). Civic participation and the development of adolescent behavior problems. Journal of Community Psychology, 35(6), 761–777.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vieno, A., Perkins, D. D., Smith, T. M., & Santinello, M. (2005). Democratic school climate and sense of community in school: A multilevel analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology, 36(3/4), 327–341.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Vieno, A., Santinello, M., Pastore, M., & Perkins, D. D. (2007b). Social support, sense of community in school, and self-efficacy as resources during early adolescence: An integrative, developmentally oriented model. American Journal of Community Psychology, 39, 177–190.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walzer, M. (1989). Citizenship. In T. Ball, J. Farrand, & R. Hanson (Eds.), Political innovation and conceptual change (pp. 211–219). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yates, M. (1999). Community service and political–moral discussions among adolescents: A study of a mandatory school-based program in the United States. In M. Yates & J. Youniss (Eds.), Roots of civic identity: International perspectives on community service and activism in youth (pp. 16–31). New York, NY, US: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Yates, M., & Youniss, J. (1998). Community service and political identity development in adolescence. Journal of Social Issues, 54(3), 495–512.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Youngblade, L. M., & Curry, L. A. (2006). The people they know: Links between interpersonal contexts and adolescent risky and health-promoting behaviour. Applied Developmental Science, 10(2), 96–106.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Youniss, J., McLellan, J. A., Su, Y., & Yates, M. (1999). The role of community service in identity development: Normative, unconventional, and deviant orientations. Journal of Adolescent Research, 14(2), 248–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Youniss, J., McLellan, J. A., & Yates, M. (1997). What we know about engendering civic identity. American Behavioral Scientist, 40(5), 620–631.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zaff, J. F., Malanchuk, O., & Eccles, J. S. (2008). Predicting positive citizenship from adolescence to young adulthood: The effects of a civic context. Applied Development Science, 12(1), 38–53.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Michela Lenzi.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lenzi, M., Vieno, A., Perkins, D.D. et al. Family Affluence, School and Neighborhood Contexts and Adolescents’ Civic Engagement: A Cross-National Study. Am J Community Psychol 50, 197–210 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-012-9489-7

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10464-012-9489-7

Keywords

  • Civic engagement
  • Family affluence
  • School
  • Neighborhood
  • Adolescence
  • Participation