Adolescent Civic Engagement and Perceived Political Conflict: The Role of Family Cohesion

Laura K. Taylor, Dana Townsend, Christine E. Merrilees, Marcie C. Goeke-Morey, Peter Shirlow, Mark Cummings

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Adolescents are often exposed to the lasting effects of political conflict. Complementing existing research on negative outcomes in these settings, this paper focuses on the role of the family (N = 731 mother/adolescent dyads, 51% female, 14.72 (SD = 1.99) years old at Time 1) in promoting constructive youth outcomes in response to perceived conflict in Northern Ireland. Exploratory factor analyses revealed two related forms of youth civic engagement: volunteerism and political participation. Structural equation modelling revealed that compared to males, female adolescents reported more volunteerism. Older adolescents reported higher political participation and lower volunteerism. Moreover, over three time points, the primary model test revealed that the impact of perceived political conflict on adolescent volunteerism and political engagement was partially mediated by family cohesion. These findings suggest that amid protracted political conflict, the family may be a key factor underlying adolescents’ contributions to post-accord peacebuilding.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalYouth & Society
Early online date21 Mar 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 Mar 2017


  • Families
  • Prosocial Involvement
  • Political Behavior
  • Civic Engagement
  • Resiliency

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