Youth activism in the urban community: Learning critical civic praxis within community organizations

Shawn Ginwright, Julio Cammarota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

189 Scopus citations


Research on African-American and Latina/o youth has been dominated by studies that focus on 'problem' adolescent behavior. Typically, they explain youth crime, delinquency, and violence as individual pathological behavior or cultural adaptations stemming from social disorganization in their communities. This article argues for a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between youth-serving organizations and youth agency in urban communities, which can avoid the pitfall of focusing on the most egregious activities among youth. Rather, it is argued that African-American and Latina/o youth respond to community and school conditions through civic engagement facilitated by community-based organizations. Urban youth collectively respond to community and school problems through youth organizing, spoken word, volunteering, and participation in civic affairs. Organizations in urban communities can provide youth with opportunities to develop critical civic praxis through engagement with ideas, social networks, and experiences that build individual and collective capacity to struggle for social justice. This view of youth acknowledges structural constraints in their communities, but also views young people as active participants in changing debilitative neighborhood conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-710
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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