"Opening Windows, Opening Doors": Marginalized Students Engaging Social Justice Education to Become Socio-Historical Agents and Activists
AuthorCannella, Chiara Marie
Committee ChairGilmore, Perry
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe ways that young people learn to engage in democratic and other mechanisms for community involvement is a product of how they are socialized into the institutions they inhabit and how they incorporate this socialization into their ongoing construction of identity. In order to become active and agentive members of their society, young people must learn to view themselves as able to productively engage in social practices and social change. Conventional schools are structured in ways that limit opportunities for marginalized students to develop agentive and active social identities. This study suggests that students may construct more agentive identities if they have opportunities to frame their life circumstances and actions in political and historical terms.This project has studied how high school students may construct expanded subject positions as a result of participating in a culturally relevant and explicitly political youth development program. The Project for Conscious Education and Activism (PCEA) incorporates critical and culturally relevant pedagogy with participatory action research. Embedded in a required senior year social studies course, the PCEA provides students a chance to perceive their roles as sociohistorical actors. This two-year ethnographic case study examined shifts in students' academic identities and social agency. Increasing identification with school subject matter fostered intellectual empowerment that often extends beyond the context of school to effect broader social identities. Findings detail the ways that participants can come to see their actions as socially and historically grounded, eventually coming to think of themselves as social actors.Conventional typologies of civic engagement tend to leave out ways that youth of color and those from poor communities resist and address debilitative social disinvestment. But neither do young people tend to think of their actions as constituting social or civic action. Many shifts in subjectivity were apparent as PCEA participants began to frame their actions as intentional intervention in social injustice, becoming "civic" attempts to improve conditions in their communities. As young people learn to see their actions in relation to political and institutional patterns, they may both expand their social agency and increasingly frame their actions as contributing to social justice.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading & Culture