Materials for Teaching about Youth and Activism

Materials for Teaching about Youth and Activism

Jennifer Earl & Thomas V. Maher

We have created a suite of materials for teaching about youth, political socialization, and activism as a part of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Youth Activism Project. We present this blog post as a centralized way to share these materials with the broader social movements community. Here, we include a syllabus on youth and activism, a series of one week modules that you might consider adding to your courses on social movements, political sociology, or political communication, annotated readings and discussion questions for those are unfamiliar (or who would like to get reacquainted) with parts of the literature, focus questions (to be used in conjunction with the syllabus), links to online materials including interviews with young people about politics, and a short assignment that asks students to interview three people that they know about political participation. We are producing more assignments and materials, and we look forward to sharing them when they are finished.

Syllabus

One Week Modules & Suggested Readings

Focus Questions & Annotated Readings

Online Materials

Short assignment: Perceptions of Politics Assignment

Seminar/Project Idea: Research Paper on Youth Activism

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Informing Activists: “How can I actively work against racism within social movements and Social Movement Organizations?”

Pam Oliver:

“How can I actively work against racism within social movements and SMOs?”

Classic:
Morris, Aldon D. 1986. The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement. New York: Simon and Schuster

Review:
Pamela Oliver (2017) The Ethnic Dimensions in Social Movements. Mobilization. December 2017, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 395-416.

Contemporary:
Zakiya Luna (2017) Who Speaks for Whom? (Mis) Representation and Authenticity in Social Movements. Mobilization. December 2017, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 435-450.

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Millennials and Activism – June Dialogue

Generational change and youth involvement hold special importance within social movement studies. Historically, young people have been deeply involved in the most important social movements in the United States and the World, such as the US Civil Rights Movement, the 60’s student movement in Europe and Latin America, the transnational LGBTQ movement, and many others. Millennials have perhaps been more socially and politically involved than other recent generations. They have engaged in traditional forms of political participation ranging from the conservative (e.g. the Tea Party) to the liberal (e.g. Obama’s two presidential campaigns). Recently, Millennials have also shown their involvement in less traditional forms of political engagement, such as their participation in #NeverAgain, #MeToo, the Women’s March, and other national and transnational social movements. It is clear then that millennials are not only decidedly engaged in the social and political issues that affect them, but also that they are clearly expressing their dissatisfaction through activism. Furthermore, there is evidence that this generation might be engaging in both traditional and innovative ways, expanding the repertoires of contention of previous generations. This dialogue invited social movement scholars and activists to reflect on the roles that millennials have played in recent social movement activity and the implications of their involvement for both our discipline and policy.

Thanks to our second group of contributors on this topic.

Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo

 

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2018 McCarthy Award Winner!

The Center for the Study of Social Movements at the University of Notre Dame is very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 John D. McCarthy Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Scholarship of Social Movements and Collective Behavior is Aldon Morris of Northwestern University. The award not only recognizes Aldon’s extraordinary achievements in research, but also the role that he has played in mentoring successive generations of scholars. Continue reading

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Youth, Social Movements & Activism Syllabus

Youth, Social Movements, and Activism Syllabus

This course provides an undergraduate level introduction to the study of youth political socialization and political activism. Young people are the backbone of most social movements from the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements to more contemporary examples like Black Lives Matter, #Occupy, and the anti-gun violence movement. The first half of the course presents an overview of theories of youth political socialization, political participation, and their role in social movements. The course specifically explores concerns about the state of youth political participation and the realities of participation, theories regarding how youth are socialized to participate in politics (and the impediments to participation), the history of youth in social movements (specifically why youth and college campuses are so important). The second half builds on this structure to review areas where youth are bringing new energy to political participation. The syllabus includes discussion in how youth have updated tactics, continue to redefine what counts as political, and incorporate new (intersectionality) and old (economic inequality) concerns into movements. The course is built around a midterm and final exam, as well as a research paper on a youth-oriented social movement that is broken up into several smaller “proposals” throughout the semester. Students are also assessed on their participation in class discussion over the substantive issues. The course serves as a point of connection between courses on youth and society, political sociology, political communication, and social movements.

 

The syllabus with usage notes and learning outcomes are available on the TRAILS website.

An un-gated link to Youth & Activism syllabus is available here.

Additional material are available here.

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Teaching Youth & Activism- Perceptions of Politics Assignment

This is a short (3-4pg) assignment that you may use as a part of the youth, social movements, and activism course.

Additional material are available here.

A link to a word version of this post is available here

 Assignment: Youth Political Participation Interview Study                      

Overview:  In class we have discussed, or will be discussing, how youth learn to be politically involved, perceptions of youth political involvement (particularly adults’ perceptions), and how youth may “avoid” being perceived as political. We have also discussed the realities around the diverse ways that youth are politically active. For this assignment, you will conduct one-on-one interviews (they should be at least 20-30 minutes, but you are encouraged to talk longer if it is going well) with THREE people you know or perhaps do not know so well regarding such themes. These can be friends, parents, family members, neighbors, strangers, etc. During your interview, like any sociologist, you want open and honest answers, and so you should make sure that they are comfortable sharing their beliefs, experiences, and perspectives. You should ask them the following questions. The goal is to get in-depth answers, and so you are encouraged to ask follow up questions (i.e. tell me more about that). It is okay if you do not get to all of the questions.

  • What were you taught about politics and activism growing up from your family, friends, and teachers? Did you have conversations about political issues at home or with friends?
  • Do you see yourself as politically active? What do you do that you would consider political? What would you consider activism?
  • Why do you engage in these forms of politics and activism? [If they do not participate in any activism or politics, as them why they choose not to participate]?
  • What do you think of politics in general? What do you think of people who are politically active? What would you think if someone referred to you as politically active or an activist?
  • Who do you talk about politics with? What do you talk about, and how often?
  • What sorts of issues do you think are worth getting active in response to?

After you have completed your interviews, you will write a research report on what you have found. Your report will be organized. It will have an introduction, conclusion, and a central conceptual focus (i.e. you should be able to summarize what you learned from your interviewees in one or two sentences). The body of the paper should be divided into several sections. The middle three sections should each receive equal weight in your write-up:

  1. An Introductory section that introduces the issue, broad research question, and the central conceptual focus of your paper.
  2. A Description and summary of your interviews. Describe who the THREE people you interviewed were, who they are to you, and when you interviewed them. Summarize their responses. What did you learn from them that you never thought about, or realized? What were the common themes and patterns of experiences that you saw across all of the interviews?
  3. An analysis and interpretation of these observations using one (no more than two) of the concepts developed in the text and class. Integrate your interview materials with lecture and text pertaining to political socialization, political participation, and political avoidance. Overall, you should demonstrate an awareness of some of the varied ways that engage with or avoid political participation. Make sure that you are not just defining the class concepts, but applying them. In other words, your paper should explain the concept, identify a couple of examples from you interviews, and then explains why they are examples of the concept.
  4. A reflective discussion about your own political socialization and participation. Have you ever thought about your political beliefs and actions? How did you learn “proper” political behavior, and do you express your political beliefs in culturally acceptable ways? Can you recall moments of ambiguity or tension, or peer pressure or policing, in your own development? Would you say that you generally conform your political beliefs to your friends and families’ beliefs or do you see yourself as challenging their political expectations? How and why?
  5. A conclusion paragraph that summarizes the main findings from your interviews and how they connect with the class concepts you selected.

 

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Teaching Youth & Activism- One Week Modules

We have created three one week modules for courses on Youth & Society, Social Movements, and Political Sociology for instructors who are interested in integrating the material, but not teaching an entire class on youth and activism. The modules include a selection of readings on the topic, and a brief description of how the readings fit together.

Additional material are available here.

A link to a word document version of this post is available here

Youth & Society ~ Youth and Politics

Earl, Jennifer, Thomas V. Maher, and Thomas Elliott. 2017. “Youth, activism, and social movements.” Sociology Compass (11)4

Lee, Nam-Jin, Dhavan V. Shah, and Jack M. McLeod. 2013. “Processes of political socialization: A communication mediation approach to youth civic engagement.” Communication Research 40.5: 669-697.

Dalton, Russell. 2013. “Chapter 4: Who Participates?” p.63-86 in Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 6th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press

Munson, Ziad. 2010. “Mobilizing on campus: Conservative movements and today’s college students.” Sociological Forum. 25 (4): 769-786

This module offers a week overview of interdisciplinary research on youth political engagement ranging from political talk to activism. The Earl, Maher, and Elliott piece offers an overview of the literature focusing on youth participation in social movements, the role of campus for activism, how youth intersects with gender and race, and, finally, some insights into the future of the field. The other three articles offer more direct dives into these areas. Lee, Shah, and McLeod introduce the communication mediation approach to political communication, Dalton offers an overview of what youth participation looks like on a macro level, and Munson offers an excellent case-based analysis of why college campuses are so fertile for activism that focuses on the idea of “transition points.”

 

Social Movements ~ Youth activism on campus

Earl, Jennifer, Thomas V. Maher, and Thomas Elliott. 2017. “Youth, activism, and social movements.” Sociology Compass (11)4

Van Dyke, Nella. 1998. “Hotbeds of activism: Locations of student protest.” Social Problems 45.2: 205-220.

Munson, Ziad. 2010. “Mobilizing on campus: Conservative movements and today’s college students.” Sociological Forum. 25 (4): 769-786

Velasquez, Alcides, and Robert LaRose. 2015. “Youth collective activism through social media: The role of collective efficacy.” New Media & Society 17.6: 899-918.

This module offers a week overview of social movement research that focuses specifically on youth and campus activism. The Earl, Maher, and Elliott piece offers an overview of the literature focusing on youth participation in social movements, the role of campus for activism, how youth intersects with gender and race, and, finally, some insights into the future of the field. Van Dyke’s seminal articles offers a quantitative analysis of which campuses produce activism and why, and—in combination with Munson’s excellent case-based analysis of why college campuses are so fertile for activism will prove insightful for discussing youth activism—as well as connecting with literature on political process theory, resources, and micromobilization more generally. Finally, Velasquez and LaRose offer an insightful approach that hints towards the use of more innovative tactics and frames (i.e. intersectionality) that build on prior campus activism.

 

Political Sociology ~ Youth and Politics

Earl, Jennifer, Thomas V. Maher, and Thomas Elliott. 2017. “Youth, activism, and social movements.” Sociology Compass (11)4

Lee, Nam-Jin, Dhavan V. Shah, and Jack M. McLeod. 2013. “Processes of political socialization: A communication mediation approach to youth civic engagement.” Communication Research 40.5: 669-697.

Dalton, Russell. 2013. “Chapter 4: Who Participates?” p.63-86 in Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 6th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press

Milkman, Ruth. 2017.”A New Political Generation: Millennials and the Post-2008 Wave of Protest.” American Sociological Review 82.1: 1-31.

This module offers a week overview of political sociology research that focuses specifically on youth and political participation. The Earl, Maher, and Elliott piece offers an overview of the literature focusing on youth participation in social movements, the role of campus for activism, how youth intersects with gender and race, and, finally, some insights into the future of the field. Lee, Shah, and McLeod’s article offers a theoretical approach for how youth are socialized to participate politically. Dalton’s piece focuses on trends in political participation—the outcome of socialization—among young people. Finally, Milkman offers a view on young people and the impact they are having on contemporary politics.

Additional Suggested Readings

Overview

Dalton, Russell. 2013. “Chapter 4: Who Participates?” p.63-86 in Citizen Politics: Public Opinion and Political Parties in Advanced Industrial Democracies, 6th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press

Caren, Neal, Raj Andrew Ghoshal, and Vanesa Ribas. 2011. “A social movement generation: Cohort and period trends in protest attendance and petition signing.” American Sociological Review 76.1: 125-151.

Campus Activism

Van Dyke, Nella. 1998. “Hotbeds of activism: Locations of student protest.” Social Problems 45.2: 205-220.

Munson, Ziad. 2010. “Mobilizing on campus: Conservative movements and today’s college students.” Sociological Forum. 25 (4): 769-786

Political Socialization

Lee, Nam-Jin, Dhavan V. Shah, and Jack M. McLeod. 2013. “Processes of political socialization: A communication mediation approach to youth civic engagement.” Communication Research 40.5: 669-697.

Ojeda, Christopher, and Peter K. Hatemi. 2015. “Accounting for the Child in the Transmission of Party Identification.” American Sociological Review 80.6: 1150-1174

Youth & Social Movement Organizations

McAdam, Doug. 1986. “Recruitment to high-risk activism: The case of freedom summer.” American Journal of Sociology 92.1: 64-90.

Gordon, Hava Rachel. 2007. “Allies within and without: How adolescent activists conceptualize ageism and navigate adult power in youth social movements.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 36.6: 631-668.

Intersectionality & Youth Activism

Velasquez, Alcides, and Robert LaRose. 2015. “Youth collective activism through social media: The role of collective efficacy.” New Media & Society 17.6: 899-918.

Terriquez, Veronica. 2015. “Intersectional mobilization, social movement spillover, and queer youth leadership in the immigrant rights movement.” Social Problems 62.3: 343-362.

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Teaching Youth & Activism- Online Materials

These are additional online materials (videos, articles, radio reports, etc.) that you may draw on to supplement ideas and issues raised in class.

Additional material are available here.

A link to a word version of this post is available here

Henry Jenkins – By Any Media Necessary:

http://byanymedia.org/works/mapp/index

This website is a companion to Jenkins’ book of the same name. It offers articles that elaborate and exemplify concepts from the book. It also provides links to videos and examples of how youth have used culture and media to convey political ideas and issues. Finally, the website offers teaching and learning guides and conversation starters for instructors interested in incorporating these materials into the classroom.

Black Youth Project:

https://blackyouthproject.com/category/video/

The Black Youth Project is a platform for highlighting the voices of young black people and the issues that they are concerned about. The site offers a collection of news articles and videos that sit at the intersection of youth culture and black culture. The site is connected to the activist group BYP 100, and so it also acts as an opportunity for exploring the connection between an activism, information, and media.

Youth Radio:

https://youthradio.org/

Youth radio is an organization that helps get youth involved in telling their own stories. They have had stories shared on NPR and other media channels. The site offers tips and information for educators (including a wide range of “How To’s” such as fact-checking, controlling online presence, getting great interviews, etc.).   The site also includes links to a range of youth-created, youth-oriented journalism, and youth telling their own stories that can be used in several ways in the classroom.

 

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Teaching Youth & Activism- Focus Questions & Annotated Readings

We offer some suggested focus questions to help synthesize sections of the course, as well as a subset of annotated readings and discussion questions to help organize class discussion. The discussion questions are intended to highlight the core points of each article, and build connections to contemporary movements.

Additional material are available here.

A link to a word version of this post is available here

Focus Questions

How does youth political engagement compare with overall political engagement?

What challenges do youth face as they begin to get politically involved, and how do they overcome them?

Why is college such a significant time for youth political activism? Do you see that changing as the role of college changes in society?

What issues have youth brought to greater public attention in the last five years? How have these issues been received by politicians, presidential candidates, and the news media?

Annotated Readings

McAdam, Doug. 1986. “Recruitment to High-Risk Activism: The Case of Freedom Summer” American Journal of Sociology. 92(1): 64-90.

This article proposes a distinction between low risk (cost) and high-risk activism, and outlines who gets recruited to participate in the latter using the Freedom Summer campaign as a test case. McAdam argues that participation in high risk activism is driven by social connections—specifically the strength of one’s ties to activism (via personal or organizational contacts or activist participation) and their biographical availability—, and not strong individual beliefs. In order to show this, McAdam looks at the Freedom Summer campaign of 1964 where hundreds of northern college students went to Mississippi to help register black voters. To study participation, McAdam takes data from participants (1068 in total), and codes for participants (720), rejects (55), withdrawals (239), and those with unclear statuses (54), and compares across them to understand the differences. McAdam finds that motivations for participation between withdrawals and participants did not differ significantly, but they did differ in the number and types of organizations that they were a part of. McAdam also finds that participants with strong ties to other Freedom Summer participants or known activists were more likely to participate than those with weaker ties, and that those who had participated more in the past were more likely to participate. Lastly, McAdam finds evidence of what he calls “biographical availability” or that those with more time to engage and fewer personal responsibilities will be more likely to participate. Specifically, he finds that the youngest applicants were more likely to withdrawal in comparison to “older” mid-twenties applicants.

Questions:

  1. What does McAdam mean by high risk and low risk activism? What are some additional examples that we can give for movements that are operating today?
  2. What was the Freedom Summer campaign? What did the movement ask participants to do? Would you have gone?
  3. How important were youth for the Freedom Summer campaign? Generally, how important do you think young people are for social movements?
  4. McAdam finds some counter-intuitive findings for age. What does he find? Do you think that there is a “sweet spot” for high risk activism?
  5. Are there examples of high risk activism that are currently happening? How do they shape who we think of as activists and protesters?
  6. Is high risk activism enough for a movement to succeed?

 

Van Dyke, Nella. 1998. “Hotbeds of Activism: Locations of Student Protest”   Social Problems. 45(2): 205-220.

This paper explores why student protest occurred on some campuses during the 1960s, but not others. The article proposes that the cultural history of universities (i.e. the history of activism on campus) shapes where protests occur. Van Dyke argues that campus activism is due to longstanding activist subcultures that endure across generations (specifically clubs and organizations that keep activism going), the availability of resources (possible acting as a proxy for students’ ability to take classes without working), as well as other factors like school size and selectivity. To show this, the author draws on data from 423 colleges and universities as the unit of analysis. 187 had student activism (measured as the presence of an Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) chapter (105 schools) or contributing Freedom Summer participants) (146 schools) between 1960 and 1965 (236 did not). Van Dyke finds that schools with a history of activism (in the 1930s), some degree of selectiveness, and large student populations are more likely to have activist organizations, and religiously affiliated schools are less likely to have student activism in the 1960s. Van Dyke also finds that the presence of SDS organizations prior to the summer of 1964 predicts participation in Freedom Summer, and Freedom Summer participation, in turn, predicted the founding of SDS chapters supporting the argument that campus cultures facilitate activism broadly.

 Questions

  1. How do Van Dyke’s findings about political culture fit with your school?
  2. What do you think of Van Dyke’s argument that “long standing activist subcultures” contribute to activism on campus? Her work focuses on the 1960s, do these matter as much now that we have the internet and social media?
  3. What do you know about the history of activism on your own campus? Are there any groups or locations that are associated with protest?
  4. Van Dyke finds a symbiotic relationship between SDS and Freedom Summer participation. Is this unique, or do social movements on campus still “spillover” into one another?
  5. In line with previous work in the area, Van Dyke finds that schools that are more selective are more likely to have activism. Why do you think that is the case?

 

Gordon, Hava. 2007. “Allies Within and Without: How Adolescent Activists Conceptualize Ageism and Navigate Adult Power in Youth Social Movements” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. 36(6):631-668.

This article focuses on how young people experience and respond to ageism directed against them for their activism. The article argues that youth politicize the ageism they face, but they do so in different ways based on where they fit in race and class hierarchies, and these positions inform their organizational structures and mobilizing strategies. Gordon argues that “adolescence”—like race, class, and gender—is as much a socially constructed category as it is an immutable part of development, and has long been constructed as oppositional to adulthood. Indeed, treatment of youth often emphasizes adult identities, value systems, and power at the expense of young people’s lived experiences, and young activists must often develop ways to negotiate the ageist expectations of the social movement organizations they are a part of. To demonstrate this empirically, Gordon draws on qualitative analysis of two youth movement organizations between 2002 and 2004: the Coalition of Student Activists (CSA), a mostly white middle-class network of teenage activists in Portland OR, and United Youth (UY), a multiracial working class network of teens in Oakland CA. Gordon finds that the youth participants in UY saw ageism as a form of systematic oppression, and tried to emphasize youth empowerment with the support of adult allies, rather than youth autonomy from adult allies. In contrast, middle class CSA did not integrate adult allies, making its youth-centered mission particularly empowering for participants, but the lack of adult mentors also left members bereft of guidance and historical perspective when they faced obstacles and failures. In sum, Gordon argues that teenagers recognize, politicize, and criticize ageism and their social subordination as a result of living in an adult oriented society, and that young people’s collective understandings of ageism guide their social movement tactics and organizational strategies.

Questions

  1. What were the pros and cons of incorporating adult allies into youth activist organizations? Are the benefits worth the costs?
  2. Are adult allies and connections to history particularly important for working class activists, activists of color, or poor activists of color?
  3. Does ageism matter more or less for youth who are minority members of society in other ways (e.g., class, race, and gender)?
  4. What role have adults played in the political and activist organizations you have been involved with?
  5. For those who have never been active with a group, how would you perceive an activist group that was entirely run by youth?

 

Crossley, Alison Dahl. 2015. “Facebook Feminism: Social Media, Blogs, and New Technologies of Contemporary US Feminism.” Mobilization 20(2): 253-268.

This article explores how online social and friendship networks shape social movements, and argues that Facebook and online blogs enlarge and nourish feminist networks, create online feminist communities, sustain solidarity, and expand recruitment bases for online and offline mobilization. Crossley argues that interpersonal networks are important for collective action, but there are questions about whether online communities are sufficient for establishing close enough ties for mobilization. Despite these concerns, it is increasingly difficult to research offline movements without considering their online dimensions (255). To demonstrate this, Crossley focuses on college students’ feminist organizing and networking on Facebook and blogs. The author collected data on individuals and organizations at three different universities, and conducted in depth semi structured interviews with 75 undergraduate students (25 at each school). The author finds that respondents reported regularly visiting feminist blogs, and that these blogs aided in developing online communities and connecting activists across diverse geographic locations. Blogs offered information on feminism and feminist ideas, and helped to build offline relationships and connections. Crossley also finds that Facebook allows members to circulate substantive and personal information, and helps them to build solidarity with one another. It was also a medium for advertising to new members; in contrast to more traditional paper flyers. Of course, Facebook also brought members into contact with adversarial people, but participants viewed this as an opportunity to share information and ideas. In sum, these online sources reinforced participants’ commitment to feminist causes, and allowed them to express these beliefs to one another.

Questions

  1. Do you follow activists or activist organizations on social media? How do they influence your beliefs and perceptions?
  2. Can you think of other cases of online communities developing close ties and strong commitments? How do the activist organizations that Crossley describes compare?
  3. What do you think of the benefits of online organizations that Crossley outlines? Had you thought of all of these before? Do they make online communities more important, or are they still the same?
  4. Why do you think youth gravitate toward online activism?
  5. Do you think negative perceptions of online activism have anything to do with adults associating it with youth? Why or why not?

 

Earl, Jennifer, Thomas V. Maher, and Thomas Elliott. 2017. “Youth, Activism, and Social Movements” Sociology Compass. 11(4)

This article synthesizes and summarizes the article on youth political socialization, campus activism, and rising issues related to youth activism including fan activism, online activism, and issues of race, gender, and intersectionality. The article addresses the role that college campuses play for fostering political activism, the broader political science and political communication literature on political socialization, the complex role that youth organizations play for fostering political activism, and how issues of race, gender, and intersectionality are particularly important for creating inclusive activist experiences. The article concludes by highlighting several areas where the authors anticipate the field will grow. Namely, through fan activism—the process of getting politically engaged through culture or media (like Harry Potter or soap operas) rather than a political issue—and the use of social media for activism. The authors contend that these are the areas where youth are most comfortable and most active, and, because youth with set the tone for political activism into the future, they will be crucial for understanding the future trajectory of activism.

Questions

  1. Are perceptions of the lack of youth political socialization based on an actual lack of youth socialization or adults looking for forms of political activism that are familiar to them?
  2. How does the intersection of age with more recognized forms of inequality (race, gender, and class) make it harder for youth activists to get recognition and respect for the issues they care about?
  3. Do you think that tactical innovations developed by youth have more or less chance of having an impact? Why?
  4. Have you ever experienced ageism? Have you ever experienced ageism in connection to your political beliefs and opinions?
  5. Why would youth be more mindful of issues of race, gender, and intersectionality for activism? What do you think of the authors (and Gordon’s) argument that age is an aspect of identity that should be considered alongside race, class, gender, and sexuality?
  6. What are the advantages of fan activism and online activism? Have you ever participated in these actions? Do you think they will lead to street protest disappearing?

 

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Teaching Youth & Activism- Semester long project: Research paper on youth activism

This seminar asks students to collect data on and write about a youth social movement. There are four assignments that help to structure the project. The assigns are designed to help students with three of the major tasks associated with a long research paper: identifying a case, think about data that they can use to answer specific questions, identify relevant research, and combine these elements together into a final paper.

Additional material are available here.

A link to a word version of this post is available here

Assignment 1: Case proposal

Youth movements are movements that are focused on young people’s issues, where the majority of participants are young people, or where the movement organization is youth-directed. One of the first steps in any research project is the identification of case or data source for analysis. For this assignment, you will accomplish four tasks: you will (1) identify your case, (2) explain how it is youth-oriented, (3) identify one or two aspects of it that are interesting to you, and (4) describe a two or three specific places that you know about for collecting data.

 Assignment 2: Research Proposal

After selecting a case, the next step in the research process is to specify your research question, identify the data you will use, and explain how it will answer your research question. For this assignment you will accomplish 4 tasks. You will (1) identify two answerable research questions about your case, (2) identify at least two sources of data, (3) explain why this data is good for answering your research question, and (4) propose a timeline for conducting data analysis. If you are going to use interviews, you should describe who you will interview, if you are going to use newspaper data, you should identify which newspapers, the time frame, and provide 4 or 5 exemplar articles, and if you are going to use surveys, you should provide an outline of who you will survey and the major questions you will include.

 Assignment 3: Theory Proposal

After selecting a case and making methodological decisions, a researcher must investigate the existing data on their topic. For this assignment, you will restate your research topic and conceptual interest, and identify four academic journal articles. Your paper should identify one or two major concepts from class, define them, explain how they are related to youth movements or youth participation, and then summarize four articles that are related to this (these) concept(s).

Assignment 4: Research Paper

The final assignment for this course will be a research paper on one aspect of a youth movement or youth oriented movement. The paper includes several parts: an introduction to your case, an explanation of your methods, a description of your data as well as how you conducted your analysis, the results from your analysis, and a thorough engagement with one aspect of the social movement literature.

 

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