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Moral & political identity, and civic engagement in adolescents

Publication Authors: 
Tenelle Porter
Publication Year: 
Publication Journal: 
Journal of Moral Education. DOI: 10.1080/03057240.2012.761133

In the USA, civic involvement in adolescence includes political and nonpolitical activities. Given that identities can motivate behavior, how do political and moral identities relate to civic activity choices? In this study, high school students (N = 1578) were surveyed about their political and nonpolitical civic actions and their moral and political identities. Overall, students were more involved in service than they were in political activities. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to investigate the relation between identity and involvement, controlling for known correlates of involvement: sex, ethnicity, parent education, peer civic engagement, parent civic engagement and school civic opportunities. Moral and political identity were positively related to overall involvement. Political identity was positively related to political involvement, but was not related to nonpolitical service. Moral identity was positively related to service and expressive-political involvement, but negatively related to traditional-political involvement. Findings are discussed in light of civic and moral education initiatives.

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