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Perceived Discrimination and Civic Engagement: An Exploratory Study of Immigrant Adolescents Natalie Zuckerman New York University I would like to thank.

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Presentation on theme: "Perceived Discrimination and Civic Engagement: An Exploratory Study of Immigrant Adolescents Natalie Zuckerman New York University I would like to thank."— Presentation transcript:

1 Perceived Discrimination and Civic Engagement: An Exploratory Study of Immigrant Adolescents Natalie Zuckerman New York University I would like to thank Dr. Selçuk Sirin, Dalal Katsiaficas, and Kerry Allison for their guidance and support.

2 Citizenship and Civic Engagement  Civic engagement refers to:  actions made by an individual or group with the purpose of identifying and confronting issues of public concern.  having a sense of belonging and responsibility within a certain community (e.g., volunteering, voting).  Feeling part of a larger community enables individuals to recognize needs beyond themselves, which ultimately leads to the development of a collective identity ( Sherrod, Flanagan, & Youniss, 2002 ).  Citizenship can be understood as one’s conceptions of community, feelings of group membership, and an interest in the well-being of one’s group.  Regardless of their ethnic background, young people are more likely to display high levels of civic engagement when they feel like integral members of their community.

3 Citizenship & Civic Engagement of Immigrants  Because immigration is currently under political contention, immigrants’ lack of civic engagement might perpetuate an environment in which immigrant rights are difficult to acquire and maintain.  Adult immigrants who experience discrimination will raise socio-political concerns directly related to the struggles and needs of their own racial or ethnic group (i.e., ethno-political perspective, Stepick & Stepick, 2000 ).  Having a sense of group awareness and feeling that one is a part of a larger group increases inclinations towards civic participation ( Flanagan, Cumsille, Gill, & Gallay, 2007 ).  Perceived discrimination has also been found to create this sense of group membership among immigrants ( Bankston, 2004 ).

4 Perceived Discrimination Among Immigrants & Civic Engagement  Feeling discriminated against, or that one is a target for discrimination, is a major acculturative stressor.  Perceived discrimination also contributes to greater isolation of the immigrant community from the larger society, increasing the frequency of discrimination.  For immigrant adolescents, discrimination creates stronger ties to the non-American component of their identity and leads to critical assessments of their host society.  Might this critical assessment of the host society lead to more civic engagement? This area has yet to be examined.

5 Muslims in the U.S.  After September 11, 2001 public perceptions of Muslim Americans changed dramatically. For instance, Muslim Americans report an increase in discrimination, racism and prejudice.  As Muslim American adolescents struggle through identity development, they find themselves members of a group that is ill-perceived, complicating the process of identity formation even more.  The extent to which Muslim American adolescents are engaged in civic activities and responsibilities is an important area of study which has been unfortunately overlooked.  The few studies available in this area have identified some key factors that influence Muslim Americans’ political and civic engagement, including socioeconomic status, education, gender, and religious participation.

6 Research Questions & Hypotheses  1. What are Muslim American immigrant adolescents’ inclinations towards civic engagement, and furthermore, how does perceived discrimination affect these attitudes?  Hypothesis: Perceived discrimination will increase inclinations towards civic engagement among Muslim American immigrant adolescents.  2. How does gender influence the relationship between perceived discrimination and Muslim American immigrant adolescents’ inclinations to engage in mainstream U.S. civic society?  Hypothesis: As Muslim American women are more likely to engage in mainstream U.S. society, gender will play a moderating role in the relationship between perceived discrimination and civic engagement.

7 Participants  137 Muslim American immigrant adolescents (77 female; 60 male)  Participants were recruited in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area.  years of age ( M = 21.90, SD = 2.32).  Immigration Background  53% were first generation immigrants, and 47% second generation immigrants.  35% of participants had Pakistani origins and 27% came from Arab backgrounds (e.g., Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, and Yemen).  The remaining participants originated from a diverse group of countries (e.g., Venezuela, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad).

8 Measures  The data used for this present study are from a larger study conducted by Sirin and Fine in  Civic Engagement A subscale of the Developmental Assets Profile (Search Institute, 2004) was used to measure civic engagement and opinions about community ( α =.86).  Perceived Discrimination A modified version of a checklist developed by Krieger and Sidney (2006) was used to assess frequency of discrimination experienced in different contexts ( α =.88).

9 Descriptive Results  82% of the sample experienced discrimination at least once during the previous year ( M = 1.07, SD = 1.01).  93% of the sample reported high to moderate degrees of civic engagement ( M = 2.12, SD =.66).

10 Perceived Discrimination, Civic Engagement, and Gender  Perceived discrimination and civic engagement were significantly and positively correlated ( r =.31, p <.001).  Regression results showed that perceived discrimination accounted for 10% of the variance in civic engagement, R 2 =.10, F (2, 132) = 7.26, p <.001.  No gender differences in experiences of discrimination or inclinations towards civic engagement were found.  Gender did not moderate the relationship between perceived discrimination and civic engagement in the current sample.

11 Discussion  Results of the present study suggest that perceived discrimination might create a strong sense of collective identity among Muslim American youth, thereby increasing their likelihood to engage in their communities.  While gender differences in discrimination and civic engagement have been noted with adult immigrant samples, gender was not a significant factor for perceived discrimination, civic engagement, or their relationship among Muslim youth.  Results of the present study shed light on ways in which discrimination relates to beliefs and feelings about community and citizenship among Muslim American immigrant youth.  These findings might lead to the design of service-learning programs to empower immigrant youth to be actively involved in their communities.

12 Limitations and Future Research  Because this is an exploratory study, the measures used only opened a small window onto the engagement trends of Muslim American immigrant youth.  It is still unclear how these youth are actually engaging in their communities, and if like immigrant adults, they are engaging from an ethno-political perspective.  Future research should examine more closely the specific ways in which these youth engage and the communities they are engaging with.  It is also important to gain a better understanding of how perceived discrimination impacts civic inclinations, and how gender might play a role in this relationship.


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