Conscientização, youth participatory action research, qualitative social work, youth activism, youth social movements, public science


In this article, we argue that we have much to learn from the adolescent developmental experiences of social justice activists on the frontlines. Our team of authors includes the four youth social leaders at the center of the empirical work emerging from our qualitative research. We ground the Freirean concept of conscientização, roughly interpreted in English as critical consciousness building, in the lived experiences of these four youth social leaders in Colombia who have fought tirelessly for justice in their communities. The social justice stories of these young activists emerge from semi-structured interviews including visual methods designed by our research team to identify key moments in these youth pathways of conscientização for social change. We conclude by urging the state, key organizational and individual actors of social movements and the academy to pay closer attention to the lives and lessons that youth social leaders can teach us about social change.

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