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

124 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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