Learning to (Dis)Engage? The Socialising Experiences of Young People Living in Areas of Socio-Economic Disadvantage

British Journal of Educational Studies 59 (4):421-437 (2011)
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Young people are increasingly required to demonstrate civic engagement in their communities and help deliver the aspirations of localism and Big Society. Using an ecological systems approach this paper explores the experiences of different groups of young people living in areas of socio-economic disadvantage. Using volunteering as an example of civic engagement it is shown that barriers and motivators for young people stem from within the micro, meso, exo and macrosystems, and that these interact with each other, and with bio-psychological factors within individuals, to bring about differential opportunities and outcomes for young people. Through examining the experiences of three different groups of young people placed within socio-economically disadvantaged communities, considerable variation in levels of civic engagement are identified and it is suggested that some young people's lived experiences are resulting in decisions to civically disengage. It is argued that young people need to benefit from genuine opportunities to develop self-efficacy if they are to respond to the demands of Big Society aspirations for localised decision-making



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Tom Harrison
Cardiff University

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