Supporting Asian-American Civic Engagement: Theory and Practice

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  • This paper is a review of relevant research related to the civic engagement of Asian-American youth.
  • Little work has been done to understand the civic engagement activities of Asian-American youth. However, unique promoters and barriers to Asian- American youth civic engagement exist, given this group’s distinct historical, cultural, and sociopolitical experiences.
  • Asian-American youth may have two different ethnic and racial identities, and these identities may be related to different kinds of civic engagement. Asian-American students who have a stronger pan-Asian identity are more aware that their fate is linked with other Asian-Americans and therefore are more likely to engage in activities that aim to unite different Asian ethnic groups to promote the rights of Asian-Americans as a whole. Ethnic identification with a particular group (e.g., Vietnamese or Chinese) may encourage more social activism related to the specific social justice issues of that group.
  • Foundation theories of change and program design should take into account whether the types of proposed civic engagement outcomes are appropriate to the participants’ racial and ethnic identities.

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