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

Immigrant Youth & Civic Engagement

May 19th, 2008
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Applied Development Science has published a special issue on immigrant civic engagement. Two articles are by CIRCLE staff and three other articles are the products of CIRCLE grants.

  • “Immigrant Civic Engagement: New Translations” by Lene Arnett Jensen and Constance A. Flanagan
  • “South Florida’s Immigrant Youth and Civic Engagement: Major Engagement: Minor Differences” by Alex Stepick, Carol Dutton Stepick, and Yves Labissiere [research funded by CIRCLE]
  • “The Civic Engagement of Immigrant Youth: New Evidence From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Survey” by Mark Hugo Lopez and Karlo Barrios Marcelo [CIRCLE staff]
  • “Immigrants’ Cultural Identities as Sources of Civic Engagement” by Lene Arnett Jensen [research funded by CIRCLE]
  • “Contested Citizenship and Social Exclusion: Adolescent Arab American Immigrants’ Views of the Social Contract” by Laura Wray-Lake, Amy K. Syvertsen and Constance A. Flanagan
  • “Identities in Context: Politicized Racial Group Consciousness Among Asian American and Latino Youth” by Jane Junn and Natalie Masuoka [research funded by CIRCLE]
  • “The Civic Engagement of Young Immigrants: Why Does It Matter?” by Peter Levine [CIRCLE staff]
  • “The Challenges of Studying Political and Civic Incorporation” by Mary C. Waters
  • “Reaping What You Sow: Immigration, Youth, and Reactive Ethnicity” by Rubén G. Rumbaut

The special issue (vol. 12, no. 2) is here. Click below for selected abstracts.
Abstracts

Alex Stepick, Carol Dutton Stepick, and Yves Labissiere, “South Florida’s Immigrant Youth and Civic Engagement: Major Engagement: Minor Differences”

Although most immigrants are adults, their foreign and U.S.-born children are the fastest-growing component of the U.S. population. How these children integrate into U.S. society and the ways that they civically engage will greatly determine the nature of civil society in the United States over the next few decades. Using qualitative and quantitative data, this study compares the patterns of civic engagement of immigrant and nonimmigrant youth in Miami, Florida, a region of the United States with the highest proportion of immigrants. By almost all measures, immigrant civic engagement is statistically similar to that of nonimmigrants. Because immigrants engage more in civic actions that benefit their ethnic group, they are often missed by traditional civic engagement measures. Those of immigrant extraction, for example, devote considerable activity to using their bilingual skills and helping other immigrants. Like native minorities, immigrants also become heavily engaged in politically related activities in response to discrimination.

Mark Hugo Lopez and Karlo Barrios Marcelo, “The Civic Engagement of Immigrant Youth: New Evidence From the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Survey”

We present new evidence on the civic engagement of immigrants and the children of immigrant parents (ages 15 to 25). Utilizing the 2006 Civic and Political Health of the Nation Survey conducted by CIRCLE, we find that young immigrants report lower levels of civic engagement on most measures compared to natives. However, once observable demographic factors are controlled, many of these differences are eliminated. In contrast, the children of immigrant parents report levels of civic engagement that match or exceed those of natives.

Lene Arnett Jensen, “Immigrants’ Cultural Identities as Sources of Civic Engagement”

Immigrant parents (first generation) and adolescents (second generation) from El Salvador and India (N = 80) took part in interviews on civic engagement. The immigrants were almost unanimous in regarding civic engagement as important. They also were engaged themselves, more so at the community than the political level. One third of immigrants were engaged in community activities that specifically had a cultural focus or occurred through cultural organizations, and the comparable number for political activities was 25%. Cultural motives (i.e., a cultural or immigrant sense of self) were twice as likely to be mentioned as sources of engagement rather than disengagement. Qualitative analyses of these cultural motives revealed seven engagement themes (e.g., cultural tradition of service) and three of disengagement (e.g., ethnic exclusion).

Laura Wray-Lake, Amy K. Syvertsen and Constance A. Flanagan, “Contested Citizenship and Social Exclusion: Adolescent Arab American Immigrants’ Views of the Social Contract”

Drawing from social contract theory, we explore how some adolescent Arab immigrants’ (n = 99) sensitivity to the image of their ethnic group as enemies of America colors their interpretation of the social contract. Analyses of data collected in 1997 reveal that those youth who reported that the American media portray Arab people and nations as enemies of the United States are more attuned to personal experiences of prejudice based on their ethnic identity and are more dubious that the tenets of the social contract apply equally across groups. Negative images of Arab Americans were well in place prior to September 11, 2001, a pivotal moment that altered the lives of Arab Americans as well as the discourse on immigration and citizenship.

Jane Junn and Natalie Masuoka, “Identities in Context: Politicized Racial Group Consciousness Among Asian American and Latino Youth”

This article examines the role of context on the mobilization of politicized racial group consciousness among Asian American and Latino youth. We investigate group membership by analyzing face-to-face interview data with Latino and Asian American youth in New York and California on their responses to questions about the meaning of their race and ethnicity to politics. Next, we use survey data from a nationally representative sample of Asian American and Latino youth taken during the 2004 election. We also analyze the extent to which the contextual circumstances of systematic exposure to an experimental frame prompting racial and ethnic group pride influence racial group consciousness. The data help to illuminate the extent to which racial and ethnic identities of Asian American and Latino youth are manifest in their unique political contexts.

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