Pathways to Participation: Class Disparities in Youth Civic Engagement

Melody L. Boyd, Jason Martin, Kathryn Edin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recent research finds that there is a growing class gap in levels of civic engagement among young whites in the United States. Much of the literature on civic engagement focuses on individual- and family-level factors related to civic engagement. Our evidence suggests that it is critically important to consider variation and change in community-level factors as well, and that such factors may play a key role in facilitating or inhibiting civic engagement. To explore the puzzle of the growing class gap among young whites in civic engagement, we conducted two-generation in-depth qualitative interviews in white working class neighborhoods in Philadelphia and its inner suburbs, with companion interviews among Philadelphia-area youth living in middle class communities. We complement these interviews with quantitative measures of institutional and demographic changes in these neighborhoods over time. Our evidence suggests that a withdrawal of institutional investments in working class neighborhoods (and relative to middle class neighborhoods), along with an increase in population turnover and racial and ethnic heterogeneity, which has disproportionately impacted working class neighborhoods as well, may be important factors in understanding the growing class gap in civic engagement among white youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-422
Number of pages23
JournalCity and Community
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Urban Studies


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