Positive Youth Development in 2020: Theory, Research, Programs, and the Promotion of Social Justice

J Res Adolesc. 2021 Dec;31(4):1114-1134. doi: 10.1111/jora.12609.


We use Hamilton's (1999) tripartite conception of the positive youth development (PYD) literature - that is, PYD as a theoretical construct, PYD as a frame for program design, and PYD as an instance of specific youth development programs - as a framework for reviewing scholarship involved in the PYD field across the second decade of the 21st century. Advances were made in all three domains and, as well, new issues emerged; chief among them was a focus on the promotion of social justice. We discuss ways in which social justice issues are being addressed within each of these domains and we present a vision for enhancing the PYD-social justice relation in future scholarship involving theory, research, program design, and community-based PYD programs.

Keywords: SEL; Specificity Principle; character virtues; diversity; dynamic relational developmental systems models; positive youth development; resilience; social justice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Social Justice*