Lone heroes, outsiders, rebels and social ecologies: Insights from three case studies of young citizens in action | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1751-1917
  • E-ISSN: 1751-1925



Young people are frequently constructed in education policy discourses as not only active but transformative citizens who are expected to produce social and/or political change. Young people may embrace the individualized image of the active citizen while feeling the pressure of working within established structures and systems and of navigating the deficit discourses of youth that sometimes attend these. They may also acknowledge the role of key organizations and mentors in shaping their capacity to influence change, and yet still see themselves to some degree as lone hero actors, even as outsiders or rebels. This article draws on three Australian case studies to consider the role of NGOs and local government organizations in supporting young people’s capacity to influence change. It considers the importance of what we have called the social ecologies of influence, their relational and geographic dimensions, and how they enable young people’s resilience and efficacy as active citizens.


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