Civic and Political Participation of Children and Adolescents: A Lifestyle Analysis for Positive Youth Developmental Programs

Social participation, which refers to one’s degree of participation in a community or society, is associated with positive and healthy youth development (PYD), which is a strength-based view that focuses on positive characteristics and prevention rather than on negative and unhealthy outcomes (Zaff and others, 2003). Civic engagement plays a key role for individu- als and societies in determining the level of democratic life, social capital and cohesion in a country (Hart, 1992; Putnam, 2000), influencing the resources offered by the context for per- sonal thriving (Basarab, 2012) and increasing dialogue in the public sphere and political system legitimacy.
This study’s main aim was to understand the factors associated with social participation among children. The work’s novelty resides in its use of lifestyle theory to explore its influence on a relevant factor for PYD (i.e. civic engagement). This sociological approach to researching children and adolescents’ participation, which consider relational individual life- styles to capture the phenomenon’s complexity in a broader manner, has been applied to studying children’s political participation and other socially complex phenomena (Faggiano, 2007; Garcia Ruiz, 2010; Livingstone and others, 2012).