Toward a critical social theory of youth empowerment

Louise B. Jennings, Deborah M. Parra-Medina, De Anne K.Hilfinger Messias, Kerry McLoughlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

16 Scopus citations


This article contributes to the development of a critical social theory of youth empowerment which emphasizes collective efforts to create sociopolitical change. It draws upon analysis of four youth empowerment models, and upon findings from a participatory research study which identified key dimensions of critical youth empowerment: (1) a welcoming, safe environment, (2) meaningful participation and engagement, (3) equitable power-sharing between youth and adults, (4) engagement in critical reflection on interpersonal and sociopolitical processes, (5) participation in sociopolitical processes to affect change, and (6) integrated individual- and community-level empowerment. It concludes with discussion of the measurement of outcomes, and the challenges and opportunities for empowerment in youth organization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationYouth Participation and Community Change
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages26
ISBN (Print)9780203051726
StatePublished - 2012


  • Critical social theory
  • Model development
  • Participatory research
  • Youth
  • Youth empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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