Although youth have long been at the forefront of social change, the last two decades have seen an upsurge in the number of organizations, agencies, and governmental bodies dedicated to supporting the idea of youth voice in public policy. Drawing on in-depth individual interviews with 32 youth in one major urban center, this study compares how participation in differently positioned political activities influences participants’ sociopolitical identities and their views of the most effective mechanisms for social change. Specifically, this research compares youth involved in a government-sanctioned youth commission, developed to advise policymakers, with youth involved in a community-based youth organizing group, focused on fighting for educational reform. The study explores similarities and differences in the two sets of participants’ civic commitments, sense of agency, and beliefs about the process of social change.

Response to this Article

Matthew L. Goldwasser, The Missing Elements of Change