CITIZENSHIP AND LIFE VALUES: A STUDY WITH PORTUGUESE STUDENTS FROM PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

M.C. Taveira, A.I. Mota, J. Pinto

University of Minho (PORTUGAL)
Values assume a relevant role in individuals’ development, since they model behavior and predict choice and satisfaction with life-roles. Over the past years, life or personal values have been conceptualized as beliefs or representations of individual needs, which refer to the set of concepts and ideas that empower people to live in society. In this regard, individuals are not distinguishable by the adoption of specific life values, but more by the priority and the amount of time they give to their life-values. This study aims to analyze if the effective or expected participation in citizenship by adolescents is influenced by their life values. Participants were 542 adolescents, 307 girls (56.6%) and 235 boys (43.4%), aged 12 to 19 years old (µ=14.00±1.46), attending the 8th (N=296), 10th (N=141), and 11th (N=105) grades at elementary and secondary schools, in the northern Portugal. These students fulfilled the Basic Values Scale (BVS; Valdiney, et al., 2009) and the Community Service´s subscale of the Work Importance Study Values Scale (WIS; Sverko, 1987; Ferreira Marques, 1995).
BVS is designed to assess three human values orientations (social, central and personal) and two types of needs (humanitarian and materialistic). These two functions yields six sub-functions of values, expressed in a total of eighteen basic values, namely (a) experimentation, which includes sexuality, pleasure and emotion values, and expresses a personal orientation and humanitarian needs; (b) realization, which includes success, prestige and power values, and expresses a personal orientation and materialistic needs; (c) superpersonal, which includes knowledge, maturity and beauty values, and expresses a central orientation and humanitarian needs; (d) existence, which includes health, survival and personal stability values, and expresses a central orientation and materialistic needs; (e) and interactive, which includes affection, socialise and social support values, and expresses a social orientation and humanitarian needs; (f) normative, which includes tradition, obedience and religion values, and expresses a social orientation and materialistic needs
WIS is designed to assess the relative importance assigned to life-roles, in terms of participation, commitment and values. In this study, we used the Community Participation subscale, to assess the importance students dedicate to citizenship life-role through their effective or expected participation in community activities.
Results of multiple regression analysis indicate that the identified model explains only 4.3% of the variance of the Community Service participation WIS´s subscale (R2 adj.= .033, p= .001) (F (6 , 535)= 4.038, p= 0.001), with BVS Suprapersonal life-values subfunction (t= 2.924, p= .004) being the only significant predictor of Citizenship role participation in our adolescents’ sample. Continuity of this line of research must consider other variables, besides life values, in order to better understand what guides and determines adolescents’ participation in community activities.