Beyond Skills and Structure: Justice Dispositions as Antecedents of Young Citizens' Volunteering and Political Participation

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ABSTRACT

Community involvement is usually attributed to opportunity structures and individuals' ability to be involved. Building on psychological justice research, this paper proposes that justice dispositions add to explaining why young citizens become active in their communities or not. Furthermore, it is argued that justice dispositions help to understand why most studies find only moderate relationships between youth volunteering and forms of political involvement. In a sample of 321 young Swiss volunteers, this study shows justice centrality and belief in a just world to predict the extent of volunteering and political participation, even after controlling for civic skills and opportunity structures. However, scrutinising the motivations to volunteer, self-oriented motivations (enhancement, social, career and understanding) more strongly affected the level of volunteering than motivations related to justice dispositions (political responsibility and social responsibility). These findings have implications for the attraction and retention of volunteers as well as for the politics of volunteering and community development in general. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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