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"There's Still Not Justice": Youth Civic Identity Development Amid Distinct School and Community Contexts


by Beth C. Rubin — 2007

Qualitative research describing and theorizing about the emerging civic identities of diverse youth is scarce. This study provides a textured view of how civic identity is constructed and negotiated by racially and socioeconomically diverse adolescents, based on interviews and in-class discussions conducted with students in four public secondary schools. Youth living in distinct contexts come to school-based civic education with varied understandings—shaped by disparate daily experiences—of what it means to be an American citizen and a participant in the civic life of a democracy. This investigator’s examination of diverse adolescents’ discussions of their in-school and out-of-school civic experiences suggests a “typology” of civic identity that runs counter to prevalent views of the civic engagement of urban, minority youth. The study illustrates sharp disparities in daily civic experiences of youth from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds, and suggests that schools can either hinder or encourage development of engaged, action-oriented civic identities among students from various contexts.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 109 Number 2, 2007, p. 449-481
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12771, Date Accessed: 10/23/2017 4:50:31 PM

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About the Author
  • Beth Rubin
    Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
    E-mail Author
    BETH C. RUBIN, assistant professor of education at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, conducts ethnographic research concerned with the intersection of classroom life and social inequality. Her current work focuses on detracking in the classrooms of diverse schools, and students' constructions of civic identity. Recent publications include "Unpacking detracking: When progressive pedagogy meets students' social worlds," American Educational Research Journal (2003), and Critical voices in school reform: Students living through change (2003, RoutledgeFalmer), with Elena Silva.
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