International Society of Political Psychology

Conference Abstracts

Severity of Conditions and the political development of Salvadoran adolescents

Alison Mary Baker, North Carolina State University

Conference: ISPP 2011
Affiliation: North Carolina State University
Research Area: Social inequality and social change

Fledgling democracies such as El Salvador rely on citizen participation, especially among youth, to secure a stable societal future.  Almost two decades after the violent 12-year civil war and the Peace Accords, democratic participation is a still a relatively fragile process. Recent research shows that the government’s inability to resolve violent crime and economic problems has led many Salvadorans to lose their faith the democratic system. However, less is known about the political engagement of Salvadoran youth, especially those born in the post-conflict democratic era.  This research examines a sample of 686  Salvadoran youth  aged 15 to 22,  to explore the role of poverty on sociopolitical development and  identity formation.  Findings show that political and moral development among older adolescents is in fact related to the severity of conditions in which they live. In addition, results reveal that Salvadoran youth are engaged in and aware of democratic processes, but have low levels of trust in societal structures.