Does family influence civic participation in young people?

#Family's role in society, culture, and reproduction has been highly discussed in the recent decades. However, little attention is given to the question if there is a connection between young people family relationships and civic participation or not.

In European political strategy, the family is firmly positioned outside of civil society. The family is framed as a ‘private’ and self-interested entity that operates as a self-interested rather than an altruistic entity. This suggests that generosity and mutual support within the family unit does not extend beyond it. From this perspective, families might even be seen to be working against the development of a robust civil society. Therefore, questions about whether strong family ties support or work against a healthy civil society are raised.


According to E. Muddiman et al., 2018, there exists a link between civic participation and family ties, suggesting that there could be an intergenerational transmission of civic participation. Young people who reported positive relationships with their parents and grandparents were more likely to participate meaningfully in activities to help other people or the environment.

Usually, parents have a greater impact than a positive experience at school or friendships with peers in children who choose to volunteer. They provide a route and encourage their young children to get involved into civic participation. Moreover, a family with a strong bondage can lead to linkages outside it by supporting a healthy civil society.

However, there is a gendered nature of civic participation. Female participants are more likely to be involved, and more likely to find the civic participation meaningful. Whereas, relationships with mothers and mostly female grandparents are identified as predictors for meaningful civic participation. Therefore, mothers and grandmothers are the most significant agents, as positive intergenerational relationships with female family members are associated with meaningful or mutually beneficial civic participation.


Furthermore, political affiliation, religiosity, and ethnicity seem to be related to levels of civic participation. These factors suggest that a number of different social and cultural factors might play a role in civic participation.


Even though it is unclear how a family interacts with other potential influences like school and peer group, the family is far more important in developing a propensity for engagement in civil society than is commonly understood. Therefore, closeness and bonds within the family lead to strong linkages beyond it.

Source: Young people, family relationships and civic participation
E. MUDDIMAN ET AL. 2018
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