• Youth civic and political (dis)engagement: representations, patterns and contexts
  • Tzankova, Iana <1988>


  • M-PSI/05 Psicologia sociale


  • The desire and capacity of youth to engage with the civic and political sphere has been put in doubt by competing approaches in the study of youth citizen participation. In this research we aim to: 1) examine the social representations of youth civic and political participation in the current psychological literature; 2) explore the patterns of (dis)engagement in the civic and political sphere among Italian youth; 3) examine the patterns of (dis)engagement of late adolescents, in particular, and the influence of proximal ecological contexts on the assumption of different orientations; 4) explore how youngsters interpret active citizenship and their role as social agents, and how they perceive their schools’ climate, opportunities and limitations for meaningful involvement. Based on a mixed methods approach, the project analyzed: psychological academic discourse through a bibliographic content analysis; patterns of (dis)engagement and contextual correlates through a person-centered approach, using a survey; and young people’s perspective and experiences through focus group discussions. The results highlight the structural organization of social representations about youth participation in psychology, which result in competing normative assumptions about what kind of participation is studied (conventional vs. critical) and what role youngsters have in their civic development (recipients vs. agents). Moreover, the patterns of (dis)engagement identified also a large proportion of latently involved youth, while on every level of activity was distinguished by those who were satisfied with politics and those who were not. Also, the findings found important influences of proximal contexts for the orientations that adolescents assumed. Finally, youngsters displayed comprehensive and critical views of active citizenship and thought of their role as social agents with frustration. School characteristics, and especially, opportunities for reflective discussion and meaningful involvement were found to be crucial for the perception of having an empowering role. The results are discussed in view of their implications.


  • 2018-04-16


  • Doctoral Thesis
  • PeerReviewed


  • application/pdf



Tzankova, Iana (2018) Youth civic and political (dis)engagement: representations, patterns and contexts, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Scienze psicologiche , 30 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/8677.