Critical Consciousness Development in White Youth: The Role of the Perceived Racial Context

Brandon Dull, Fordham University


Research has demonstrated that for adolescents broadly, parents, peers, and schools all play valuable roles in shaping how youth make sense of race. However, these relations have rarely been investigated among White youth, obscuring efforts aimed at promoting anti-racism action. In addition, critical consciousness (CC) has been a fruitful lens to investigate how adolescents make sense of inequality and take action for social change, yet the literature has not taken an intersectional approach to examine CC in White youth. This research sought to bridge these gaps by firstly characterizing racial contexts that White adolescents perceive and how these contexts relate to both critical reflection (i.e., understandings of inequality) and critical action (i.e., action to address inequality). Using a latent class analysis approach, findings revealed three distinct classes: a high racial socialization/awareness class, a low racial socialization/awareness class, and a peer socialization class. Being in the high racial socialization/awareness was associated with greater critical action and reflection as compared to the other two classes. Intersections between racial contexts and gender and socioeconomic status was also examined to account for how other systems of oppression and privilege shape racial socialization and critical consciousness. Results demonstrated that females and youth from higher socioeconomic backgrounds reported greater critical action. This study provides insight into racial contexts that promote the recognition of inequality and the desire to work toward social change for White youth.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Ethnic studies|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Dull, Brandon, "Critical Consciousness Development in White Youth: The Role of the Perceived Racial Context" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28492974.