Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 47, Issue 4, pp 731–748 | Cite as

How is Civic Engagement Related to Personal Identity and Social Identity in Late Adolescents and Emerging Adults? A Person-Oriented Approach

  • Lyda Lannegrand-Willems
  • Basilie Chevrier
  • Cyrille Perchec
  • Alexia Carrizales
Empirical Research


Adolescence and emerging adulthood are periods in life when individuals both question and define their place in society and form their identity. Meanwhile, active youth civic engagement represents a challenge for each democracy. The purpose of this study was to analyze the different forms of civic engagement among late adolescents and emerging adults and how they are related to personal identity and social identity, while adopting an integrative perspective through the lens of a person-oriented approach. The participants were 1217 (62.3% female) 16–24 year-old French students (M age  = 19.17; SD age  = 1.83). First, derived from cluster analyses, the findings emphasized diversity in civic engagement, from strong civic participation (in different formal and informal ways) to various forms of passivity. Diversity was also highlighted for personal identity and social identity profiles. Second, a Configural Frequency Analysis revealed a typical pattern associating passivity in civic engagement, personal carefree diffusion and rejection of social identity. Overall, these findings highlight an absence of general youth disaffection and provide a meaningful specific pattern for the understanding of passivity in political and civic matters in late adolescence and emerging adulthood.


Civic engagement Personal identity Social identity Adolescence Emerging adulthood Person-oriented approach 



The authors would like to thank the students who kindly volunteered to participate in the study.

Authors’ Contributions

L.L.W. coordinated the conception of the study, its design and drafted the manuscript; B.C. participated in the conception, the design, and the data collection of the study, performed statistical analyses and participated in the drafting of the article; C.P. participated in the conception and the design of the study, performed statistical analyses and participated in the drafting of the article. A.C. participated in the conception and the design of the study and performed statistical analyses. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was undertaken with the partial financial support by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union, strategic partnership project “Innovative Curriculum for Strong Identities in Diverse Europe (INSIDE)” No. 2016-1-LT01-KA203-023220 and with the financial support of the Research Department of Human and Social Sciences of the University of Bordeaux.

Data Sharing 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 the current study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained for all participants in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Bordeaux, Laboratory of Psychology EA 4139BordeauxFrance

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