The literature on political socialization suggests that learning to participate politically begins early, before youth reach voting age, and that this process begins with family at home, and with peers at school. But what does political socialization entail for contemporary second-generation immigrant youth when, by most estimates, more than 40 percent of voting age Latinos and Asians are not U.S. citizens and, therefore, non-voters?
To explore the processes by which such adolescents become politically active members of society (or not), and how their attachment to the political system varies by national origin group and by generation, the Foundation has awarded political scientist Lisa García Bedolla of the University of California, Irvine, a grant to conduct a pilot project laying the groundwork for a multi-method, multi-year project comparing immigrant and native-born youth. She will investigate the potential for student and parent surveys, focus groups, and the collection of school administrative data among students in eight and twelfth grade. This pilot award will help develop a strategy for choosing the study’s sample population and to develop and refine a survey questionnaire. Accordingly, Bedolla will perform a test-run of the survey in three schools in Orange County, California, and focus groups with a sub-sample of respondents, to explore how youth talk about politics, their attitudes toward political institutions, and their feelings of trust and efficacy vis-à-vis those institutions.