Toward a critical social theory of youth empowerment

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

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    151 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 effect 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)
    Pages (from-to)31-55
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Community Practice
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2006


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

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Development
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Public Administration


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