What does democracy mean? Correlates of adolescents' views

Constance A. Flanagan, Leslie S. Gallay, Sukhdeep Gill, Erin Gallay, Naana Nti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The open-ended responses of 701 7th to 12th graders to the question "What does democracy mean to you?" were analyzed. In logistic regressions, age, parental education, political discussions, and participation in extracurricular activities distinguished youth who could define democracy (53%) from those who could not. Case clustering revealed three emphases in youths' definitions: individual rights (30%), representative rule (40%), and civic equality (30%). These clusters did not vary by parental education or ethnicity, but several values that youth endorsed varied by parental education. Controlling for parental education, there were significant differences in adolescents' reports of familial and personal values in the three clusters. Scheffe tests revealed that the equality cluster endorsed less materialism than other clusters, more environmental responsibility than the individual rights cluster, and more social responsibility than the representative rule cluster. In contrast, the individual rights cluster was most likely to report that social ' vigilance was emphasized in their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-218
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Adolescent Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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