Community Service and Social Responsibility in Youth

James Youniss and Miranda Yates present a sophisticated analysis of community service's beneficial effects on adolescents' political and moral identity.

Using a case study from a predominantly Black, urban high school in Washington, D.C., Youniss and Yates build on the insights of Erik Erikson on the social and historical nature of identity development. They show that service at a soup kitchen as part of a course on social justice gives youth the opportunity to reflect on their status in society, on how society is organized, on how government should use its power, and on moral principles related to homelessness and poverty. Developing a sense of social responsibility and a civic commitment, youth come to see themselves as active agents in society.

The most authoritative work to date on the subject, this book challenges negative stereotypes of contemporary adolescents and illustrates how youth, when given the opportunity, can use their talents for social good. It will interest readers concerned with the development of today's youth and tomorrow's society.