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Teenage Citizens

Teenage Citizens: The Political Theories of the Young

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Teenage Citizens
    Book Description:

    Too young to vote or pay taxes, teenagers are off the radar of political scientists. Yet civic identities form during adolescence and are rooted in experiences as members of families, schools, and community organizations. Flanagan helps us understand how young people come to envisage civic engagement, and how their political identities take form.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06723-3
    Subjects: Psychology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[x])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    This book is about adolescents and politics. Yes, teenagers, most of whom are under the age of eighteen and thus are not yet eligible to vote. Consequently, they are off the radar screen for most political scientists for whom voting is such an important dependent variable. Similarly, politics as an integral aspect of human development has been largely ignored by psychologists. Perhaps these omissions are due to the narrow way in which we typically conceive of politics—as if it were mainly the business of government and the result of electoral contests. This restricted view of politics ignores the roots...

  4. chapter one Adolescents’ Theories of the Social Contract
    (pp. 10-34)

    In 1762, jean-jacques Rousseau wrote in his treatise on the social contract:

    Each of us puts his person and all his power in common under the supreme direction of the general will, and, in our corporate capacity, we receive each member as an indivisible part of the whole.

    At once, in place of the individual personality of each contracting party, this act of association creates a moral and collective body, composed of as many members as the assembly contains votes and receiving from this act its unity, its common identity, its life, and its will. This public person, so formed...

  5. chapter two Teens from Different Social Orders
    (pp. 35-49)

    During the 1990s, the nations of Central and Eastern Europe (C/E Europe) were negotiating fundamental changes in economic and political structures, from command to market economies and from one- to multiparty rule. In the forty years prior to 1989, when the Soviet empire crumbled, these nations could be described as security societies where risk was socialized, that is where the state secured the basic needs of citizens for such things as health, food, shelter, and employment. In addition, a highly compressed wage structure minimized differences in income, and policies were designed to keep social disparities in check. The Marxist dictum,...

  6. chapter three We the People
    (pp. 50-86)

    A few years ago, I reviewed the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, thanks to my grandson, Stevie, who with his first-grade classmates put the words to music for the school’s spring concert. Stevie wasn’t all that sure who “we the people” were or what the words meant but that didn’t matter. The meaning was in the practice—of performing together—reciting the words, enacting “we the people” at a public event where teachers and parents assembled and celebrated the younger members of their community.¹ It was in that collective public act that the first graders knew, in...

  7. chapter four Democracy
    (pp. 87-111)

    Winston churchill referred to democracy as “the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,”¹ and Abraham Lincoln considered democracy the “last, best hope of earth.”² However, as Robert Post, a Dean and Professor of Law at Yale Law School, points out, democracy is an elastic synonym for good government, stretching to include what ever is desirable in a state.³ Thus, although it is highly valued, the meaning of democracy tends to get lost in a “cacophony of competing interpretations.”⁴ In this chapter, I summarize the definitions of democracy provided...

  8. chapter five Laws and Public Health
    (pp. 112-133)

    Adolescence is a period of heightened risk taking with potential consequences to the health and safety of the individual and to others in society. What then are teen views about the individual’s “right” to take risks, and the role of the state in regulating and protecting the public? In the extensive literature on prevention, a science that focuses largely on averting behaviors that might compromise health, there is scant research on adolescents’ views about such issues. In contrast, notions of rights and responsibilities are ubiquitous in public discourse on smoking and alcohol use. For example, in the tobacco litigations of...

  9. chapter six Inequality
    (pp. 134-160)

    Adolescents’ understanding of economic phenomena has been a rare topic in developmental research, despite the considerable implications of the economy for the quality of their lives. A notable exception was a study in the 1970s by Robert Leahy who asked six- to eighteen-year-olds to explain “why some people are rich and others are poor.” That study followed on the heels of a decade and a half of social programs that were part of America’s War on Poverty.¹ Social policy has done an about-face since that time.

    Over the past three-plus decades, structural economic change combined with massive shifts in welfare...

  10. chapter seven Trust
    (pp. 161-196)

    The cover of Time magazine published on January 28, 2002, featured an infant, gazing innocently and outwardly at the reader. The prospects that the editors imagined about the world in which she would grow up were summarized in large print on the cover: “So many choices and no one to trust. In today’s world . . . You’re on your own, baby.” This particular issue of Time was published in the wake of the Enron scandal in which employees lost their pensions and many shareholders their savings through the shady accounting and investment schemes of company executives. Time’s cover plastered...

  11. chapter eight Community Service
    (pp. 197-226)

    Service learning is a form of experiential learning in which students engage in community service and learn through reflection on those actions.¹ Although far from institutionalized in public education, service-learning programs can be found in at least 30 percent of high schools in the United States. There is now an impressive body of research documenting both the academic and civic benefits of young people’s engagement in community service and service learning.² Of course, programs vary in content and quality, and although requiring students to engage in community service as part of their high school experience continues to be a thorny...

    (pp. 227-238)

    I opened this book with Timothy E. Cook’s critique of the early political socialization research in which he attributed its demise to “a loss of confidence about what it is we are measuring and then what it all means.”¹ In that same essay, Cook urged scholars interested in the developmental roots of political thinking to attend to psychological theories of human development and focus less on system stability and more on how younger generations develop within a political system. I have tried to take seriously Cook’s critique. Although I do not purport to have solved the mystery, I hope that...

  13. Appendix: METHODS
    (pp. 239-266)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 267-294)
  15. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 295-298)
  16. Index
    (pp. 299-310)