CIRCLE (The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement)
conducts research on the civic and political engagement of young Americans.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement

FEATURED: Spiral of Rebellion: Conflict Seeking of Democratic Adolescents in Republican Counties

November 9th, 2009
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by Michael McDevitt

November 2009book

A study of adolescents living in red and blue counties during the 2006 midterm elections shows a striking pattern of Democratic youth thriving in political expression and debate when exposed to Republican ideological climates.  Democratic adolescents were more likely to talk with parents and friends about politics, disagree openly, test opinions, and listen to opponents if they lived in Republican counties compared with Democratic youth living in liberal or balanced counties.  Compared to Republican youth residing in the same communities, Democratic youth in Republican counties were also more likely to engage in political discussion, to pay attention to news media, and to express confidence in their ability to comprehend campaign issues. The frequency of disagreeing in conversations predicted support for liberal activism. Disagreeing was a particularly strong predictor of supporting liberal activism for youth living in red counties.

These findings support the theory—proposed by McDevitt and colleagues in other studies—that young people sometimes express political identities through conflict and disagreement, not because they come to share the views of parents, teachers, or majorities in their communities.  The research in summarized in CIRCLE Working Paper #68 “Spiral of Rebellion: Conflict Seeking of Democratic Adolescents in Republican Counties.”

The same pattern was not found for Republican youth in Democratic counties during the 2006 elections; they were not more politically expressive when exposed to hostile ideological climates. However, Republican identity (like Democratic identity) correlated with knowledge of the political parties. The results suggest that Democratic identity is frequently expressed in deliberative and conflict-seeking activities, while Republican identity is often grounded in knowledge. Overall, the study suggests the value of peer-centered, critical discussion as a strategy for youth political mobilization.

* Download CIRCLE Working Paper #68 “Spiral of Rebellion: Conflict Seeking of Democratic Adolescents in Republican Counties”

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62 Responses to “FEATURED: Spiral of Rebellion: Conflict Seeking of Democratic Adolescents in Republican Counties”

  1. twin over full bunk beds Says:

    Great post on plotics for young people.

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  3. Düziçi Says:

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  5. Gambler Says:

    This conflict won’t end soon.

  6. iphone Library App Says:

    I cannot agree more to you thanks

    I just simply love the post and the content written thanks and Regards

  7. Ecommerce website development Says:

    anytime… everywhere… you will have a conflict between republicans and democrats.

  8. burn fat gain muscle Says:

    I love interesting findings just like these. You can never really know what to make of it. Either way, thanks for the post!

  9. Edible cake decorations Says:

    Young people speak on the basis of what I really believe he’s right. Instead of listening to what older people like their parents tell them. That just shows that young people develop their attitudes in choosing the right decision for them.

  10. Outdoor kitchen pictures Says:

    These results support the theory proposed by McDevitt and colleagues in other studies, that young people sometimes complain about political identities through conflict and disagreement, not because they come to share the views of parents, teachers, or the majority in their communities.

  11. pewter figurines Says:

    I don’t believe its a matter of not understanding politics as mentioned in some posts. I believe in what you sow you get policy. With the past we have given and the present we are giving to our youth, what else can we expect them to be. Then, on top of this, we want them to turn out like us. Strange. Like we’ve done a great job for this world and all. We are not exemplary, so why do want others to understand and be like what we are.

  12. Belly Jackson Says:

    Rebellion is at the heart of every political movement. You could argue that the first opposition party in every country is rooted in rebellion – that is why we have democracy, people rebel against the system, fight the system, create a new order, then others vote for it.