Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Political Science

Advisor

Merry Moiseichik

Committee Member

Brinck Kerr III

Second Committee Member

John Gaber

Keywords

Civic Engagement, Development, Policy Change, Positive, Saudi Arbaia, Youth

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate what issues youth are facing in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and to examine how these issues can be brought to the forefront for decision-makers' agendas. Additionally, the study determines whether the concept of youth civic engagement "youth councils" could help to address youth issues and identify the constraints to implementing such a policy proposal. This study utilizes Kingdon's Agenda Setting Theory as a theoretical framework. Additionally, this study used a qualitative methods approach. High school students and public officials from the government were participants in the study. The literature review confirmed strong relationships between youth civic engagement and positive youth development.

Five high schools were selected for focus group sessions and 15 in-depth interviews were conducted with government officials. All data were transcribed and coded by themes for data analysis. Both content analysis method and NVivo were used to determin emerging themes.

The study found that if youth civic engagement could be implemented, several constraints need to be overcome. The first issue is that youth are not encouraged to talk and discuss their opinions. This would have to be addressed in schools by enhancing the school environment and providing training for teachers. The second issue is the need to enhance youth image in the Saudi society, from being identified as troublemakers to being seen as a valuable asset. This may occur by allowing youth to be part of the city and neighborhood councils. The last issue is the importance of building trust between government and youth through public dialogues and direct connections between them.

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