Youth have been, and continue to be, at the forefront of radical positive social change that advances the human condition. Historically major social movements seeking change, equality, and social justice have been driven by youth. The role of youth in facilitating social change is particularly relevant today more than half of the world’s population is currently under 25, and a third under 15. While some see this “youth bulge” demographic as uninformed and vulnerable to extremism and exploitation, we reject this deficit model and see them as a population capable of, and already engaging in, transformational social thought and action. This paper argues that the broad field of youth engagement would benefit from examining youth contributions to upholding or challenging the social status quo through varying forms of civic engagement. We seek to guide research and practice in ways to distinguish types of youth engagement to better reflect its potential for positive change. Therefore, this article does three things: (1) distinguishes regimented and radical youth involvement from extremism; (2) distinguishes the contexts and environments where regimented and radical engagement operate; and (3) provides a conceptual framework to study and apply the key aspects of both, radical and regimented, youth engagement.
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