Adolescent political socialisation: Creating democratic learning environments in an Asian context

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Political socialisation is they key process by which young people learn to become citizens. Adolescent political learning, however, remains under researched. Political learning is often influenced more by accident than design. Yet democratic societies depend on informed and active citizens so there is a strong argument for more deliberate approaches to supporting political socialisation processes. The research reported here was designed to develop a political socialisation model that was not only practical in its application but also underpinned by sound theory and research evidence. Secondary Hong Kong data from over 1400 teachers in 90 schools were drawn from the ICCS data base (Schulz et al., 2010) A three stage mutli-level regression model was estimated to assess the impact of teacher engagement (TE) and confidence (C) on the creation of an open classroom climate (OCC) since such climates have been shown to facilitate political learning (Torney-Purta, et al., 2001). Two measures of TE were used – community engagement and school engagement – and a single measure of C were used as independent variables and teachers’ perceptions of OCC were used as the dependent variable. Data from over 1400 teachers in over 90 schools were used to estimate the model using MPlus 7.11. Results indicated that both measures of TE were directly related to the way teachers saw their classroom environments – the more teachers were engaged both externally and externally the more they rated their classes positively on OCC but the effects, though significant, were small. TE also impacted on OCC indirectly through C that was moderately related to OCC. The variance accounted for at system and school levels was small with most of the variance accounted for being at the individual teacher level. Given the stereotypical Asian learning environment of passive learning and teacher dominated instruction, these results were surprising. It seems that individual teachers can exert a significant impact on students’ political socialisation when they themselves are engaged in community activities and in the life of the school. Such engagement seems to build their own confidence and leads them to provide engaging environments for students. As Hahn (1998) has shown, such environments are best able to promote political learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


Kennedy, K. J. (2014, July). Adolescent political socialisation: Creating democratic learning environments in an Asian context. Paper presented at The 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology (ICAP): From Crisis to Sustainable Well-Being, Paris, France.


  • Adolescents
  • Political learning
  • Political socialisation


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