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Social Work


Barbara Benoliel


AbstractCivic engagement and political involvement of the greater portion of the population of democratic societies are important to the maintenance of the quality of life of all members. Although 100% participation in these activities is rare, higher levels of involvement across all affected demographic groups will support a more equitable political environment in urban communities. In the midwestern metropolitan community that is the focus of this study, young adult African American males were found to participate in all forms of civic engagement at lower rates than any other demographic group. Using a critical race theory foundation, the purpose of the study was to explore the perceptions that this population holds regarding civic engagement. Heuristic phenomenographical methodology was used and data were collected in interviews with 17 African American males ages 20 to 40 years to determine their perceptions concerning civic engagement. These data were analyzed after using ATLAS.ti software to sort the patterns and determine the themes. The themes of experience, motivation and hindrances, and racial influence arose resulting in conclusions that demonstrate that these young African American men are not apathetic but driven to specific methods of civic engagement. The information gained may be used by community leaders to address participatory variances and to create efforts to ensure participation in the democratic process of civic engagement.

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