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Advances in the Conceptualization and Measurement of Critical Consciousness

Abstract

This article reviews three emergent measures of critical consciousness (CC), which refers to marginalized or oppressed people’s critical reflection on oppressive social, economic, or political conditions, the motivation to address perceived injustice, and action taken to counter such injustice in a liberatory manner (Freire in Education for critical consciousness. Continuum, New York, 1973; Watts et al. in New Dir Child Adolesc Dev 134:43–57, 2011). Until recently, no instruments were explicitly designed to measure CC, resulting in fragmented approaches to its conceptualization and measurement. The concurrent development and validation of three measures—the Measure of Adolescent Critical Consciousness (McWhirter and McWhirter 2016), the Critical Consciousness Inventory (Thomas et al. in J Res Adolesc 24(3):485–496, 2014), and the Critical Consciousness Scale (Diemer et al. in press)—represents a significant scholarly advance. We argue that these new measures provide a ‘conceptual anchor’ for subsequent CC inquiry, useful for both quantitative and qualitative studies. We also recommend mixed-methods approaches to research aimed at understanding how CC develops and operates. We conclude by raising a number of questions to guide future research, the answers to which will further refine scholars’ conceptualization and measurement of CC.

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Correspondence to Matthew A. Diemer.

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Diemer, M.A., McWhirter, E.H., Ozer, E.J. et al. Advances in the Conceptualization and Measurement of Critical Consciousness. Urban Rev 47, 809–823 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0336-7

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-015-0336-7

Keywords

  • Critical consciousness
  • Sociopolitical development
  • Empowerment
  • Scale development
  • Mixed-methods
  • Adolescents
  • Marginalization