Critical consciousness: current status and future directions

New Dir Child Adolesc Dev. 2011 Winter;2011(134):43-57. doi: 10.1002/cd.310.


In this chapter, the authors consider Paulo Freire's construct of critical consciousness (CC) and why it deserves more attention in research and discourse on youth political and civic development. His approach to education and similar ideas by other scholars of liberation aims to foster a critical analysis of society--and one's status within it--using egalitarian, empowering, and interactive methods. The aim is social change as well as learning, which makes these ideas especially relevant to the structural injustice faced by marginalized youth. From their review of these ideas, the authors derive three core CC components: critical reflection, political efficacy, and critical action. They highlight promising research related to these constructs and innovative applied work including youth action-research methodology. Their conclusion offers ideas for closing some of the critical gaps in CC theory and research.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development
  • Consciousness*
  • Democracy*
  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological
  • Power, Psychological
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Social Change*
  • Social Conditions
  • Social Participation*
  • Social Sciences / trends*
  • Terminology as Topic