London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Optimism and readiness for active citizenship among young people in various age groups

Author(s) Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz B. & Zalewska, A. M.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2014  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Innovative Practice and Research Trends in Identity, Citizenship and Education  
Age group -  
This paper analyses the types of optimism prevalent among young people and their attitudes towards active citizenship. Czapiński (2005) and Stach (2006) identify two types of optimism: (1) essential optimism and (2) expansive optimism. Our research assumption was that young people's perceptions of local future are related to expansive optimism, and their perceptions of global future – to essential optimism. We also assumed that greater optimism towards local future breeds greater readiness for social (participation in campaigns) and political (voting in elections, joining a political party, running for public office) engagement. The study attempted to answer the following questions: (1) Is there a difference between young people's essential and expansive optimism? (2) Is optimism linked with age? (3) Are young people's preferences for various civic activities linked with age? (4) Is readiness for political and social engagement linked with optimism towards local and global future? A total of 2325 young people in three age groups (11, 14 and 18 years) from four European countries (Poland, Great Britain, Spain and Turkey) answered a questionnaire designed by Cathie Holden, entitled ‘What do you think about the future’. The questionnaire involved two questions about optimism, which were rated on a 5-point scale, and 4 questions about active citizenship, which were rated on a 4-point scale. The results indicate that: (1) the respondents are more optimistic towards local than global future; (2) optimism towards both local and global futures is linked with age, and the youngest respondents (11-year-olds) are most optimistic; (3) optimism and readiness for active citizenship are not correlated. Students who are more optimistic towards both local and global future declared their interest in joining a political party, but global optimism was positively correlated with the willingness to run for public office, and it was negatively correlated with the eagerness to vote in elections.

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