Send to

Choose Destination
J Youth Adolesc. 2012 May;41(5):623-35. doi: 10.1007/s10964-011-9724-9. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

The role of empowerment in youth development: a study of sociopolitical control as mediator of ecological systems' influence on developmental outcomes.

Author information

School of Human Ecology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Empowerment has become an influential concept and theoretical framework for social policy and practice. Still, relatively little is known about the roles that empowerment plays in the ecology of human development, particularly among young people. This article reports results of a study of psychological empowerment among young people, using data from 629 high school students (65.8% female; 96.5% non-white). Using a path analysis, we examined the role of perceived sociopolitical control--an indicator of the intrapersonal component of psychological empowerment--as a mediator between ecological support systems and developmental outcomes. Findings confirmed that social support in family, peer, and school settings, and family cohesion positively predict self-esteem and perceived school importance, which, in turn, have protective effects on psychological symptoms, violent behaviors and substance use. Sociopolitical control was found to mediate the relationships between ecological supports and risk factors and developmental outcomes, leading to the conclusion that perceived efficacy in the sociopolitical domain, and youth empowerment, more generally, should be considered as core elements of the ecology of human development. Policy and practice aimed at promoting positive developmental outcomes and preventing risk behaviors should take their relationship to sociopolitical control into account.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Springer
Loading ...
Support Center