Today, CIRCLE released our study entitled “That’s Not Democracy. How Out-of-School Youth Engage in Civic Life and What Stands in Their Way.” It’s really the fruit of several years’ work, including focus groups and survey analysis.
The study documents the deep sense of alienation experienced by working-class young adults in an era when the organizations that traditionally organized and engaged them–unions, churches, grassroots political parties, and metropolitan daily newspapers–are shattered, and national leaders generally ignore their concerns.
On the positive side, it shows that they discuss political issues, perhaps with more intensity than their college-bound peers, and they want to engage, especially on behalf of the children in their households and neighborhoods. It’s a bookend to our major study of YouthBuild USA, which found that when young people from similar backgrounds are recruited and encouraged to be leaders, they thrive. The implication from putting the two studies together is clear: invest in working class young adults!