Toward a Critical Social Theory of Youth Empowerment

by Louise B. Jennings, Deborah M. Parra-Medina, Deanne K. Hilfinger-Messias, Kerry McLoughlin
Journal of Community Practice ()


This article contributes to the development of a critical social theory of youth empowerment which emphasizes collective ef- forts 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 en- gagement, (3) equitable power-sharing between youth and adults, (4) en- gagement 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.

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