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Youth sociopolitical action, which encompasses a broad range of behaviors to dismantle systems of oppression, is increas- ingly taking place on social media and digital platforms. This study presents the development and validation of a 15-item Sociopolitical Action Scale for Social Media (SASSM) through three sequential studies: in Study I, a scale was developed based on interviews with 20 young digital activists (M =19, 35% cis-gender women, 90% youth of color). In Study II, age Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) identified a unidimensional scale using a sample of 809 youth (M =17, 55.7% cis- age gender women, 60.1% youth of color). In Study III, an EFA and Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) were used to confirm the factor structure of a slightly modified set of items with a new sample of 820 youth ( M =17, 45.9% cis-gender women, age 53.9% youth of color). Measurement invariance testing was conducted by age, gender, racial and ethnic background, and immigrant identity, confirming full configural and metric invariance, and full or partial scalar invariance. The SASSM can further research on youths’ efforts to challenge oppression and injustice online. Keywords Adolescence · Emerging adulthood · Scale development · Sociopolitical development · Technology · Online activism Introduction holding diverse age, gender, racial and ethnic, and immi- grant identities. This study uses qualitative and quantitative Young people have dramatically increased their sociopoliti- methods to develop and validate a scale to measure youth cal action online with the advent of new platforms and tools sociopolitical action on social media. (Jenkins et al., 2016). Social media is a new context and space for sociopolitical action, similar to schools or commu- Conceptualizing Online Sociopolitical Action nity centers, where young people are building movements that change norms and policies at national and global levels Sociopolitical action is derived from sociopolitical devel- (Anyiwo et al., 2020) and can transcend structural barriers opment theory (SPD), which proposes developmental to political participation, such as the voting age (Marchi & processes whereby youth become aware of systems of Clark, 2021). Scholars have called for additional research oppression, gain agency, and take liberatory action (Watts exploring how young people are taking sociopolitical action et al., 2003). SPD was developed from the ideas of Black online (Anyiwo et al., 2020), yet the field lacks a vali - activists and scholars, other liberatory scholars including dated scale to capture online sociopolitical action for youth Freire’s (2002) conceptualization of critical conscious- ness, and from insights derived from the lived experiences of Black boys in the U.S. Although SPD may be applica- ble to youth across the globe, it has largely been studied Sara Wilf in the U.S. context (Heberle et al., 2020). Three mutually firstname.lastname@example.org reinforcing dimensions are central to SPD: critical social Laura Wray-Lake analysis, in which youth learn about the root causes of sys- email@example.com tems of inequity; political efficacy, in which youth become empowered to create sociopolitical change; and sociopoliti- Department of Social Welfare, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California - Los Angeles, 337 Charles cal action, where youth resist oppressive systems and take E Young Dr E, 90095 Los Angeles, CA, USA 1 3 Adolescent Research Review action towards liberation (Watts et al., 2003). Sociopoliti- and organize local protests and community support events cal action focuses on resisting oppression, and thus centers (Cao et al., 2022). behaviors that change policies and norms for marginalized groups at individual, group, or societal levels (Watts et al., Existing Measurement of Youth Online Sociopolitical 2011). Whereas the first two dimensions of critical social Action analysis and political efficacy are psychological processes, the third dimension of sociopolitical action constitutes There has been an increase in scales developed to measure behaviors to advance social liberation (Watts & Hipolito- young people’s critical consciousness (i.e., Diemer et al., Delgado, 2015). SPD posits that all three dimensions are 2017, 2022; McWhirter & McWhirter, 2016; Thomas et al., positively correlated with one another (Watts et al., 2003), 2014). Critical consciousness is a framework closely related which is also supported by quantitative research (Diemer to SPD that includes the same core dimensions, albeit with et al., 2017; Hope et al., 2020). In particular, critical social sometimes different terminology. These critical conscious - analysis has been associated both with in-person political ness scales were developed to measure youth behaviors that engagement (Diemer et al., 2017) and online civic actions challenge systems of oppression in person rather than social (Bañales et al., 2020). media, with items such as “Contacted a public official by Given its open forum for expression and lower barriers phone, mail, or email to tell him/her how you felt about a to access than other civic spaces (Marchi & Clark, 2021), social or political issue” (Diemer et al., 2022). Such items social media offers a unique space for young people to resist leave out ways that youth could contact public officials on oppressive systems and pursue justice. Thus in order for the social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. Some field to comprehensively understand youth’s SPD, sociopo - items in these scales could occur both in-person and on litical action in a social media context must be systemati- social media, such as “I work to make sure that people are cally studied. This study defines online sociopolitical action treated equally and are given equal chances” (Thomas et al., as young people’s individual, relational, and collective 2014) or “I have participated in demonstrations or signed efforts on digital platforms and social media to expose and petitions about justice issues” (McWhirter & McWhirter, rectify systems of oppression and inequity, based on SPD 2016). However, because young people’s response to these theory and inspired by Ballard and Ozer’s (2016) definition items may or may not include actions on social media, it of activism as well as scholarship on youth resistance to would be impossible for researchers to more closely exam- oppression (i.e., Aldana et al., 2019; Anyiwo et al., 2020; ine the relationship between youth sociopolitical action on Hope et al., 2016). This definition encompasses young peo - social media and other developmental processes. ple’s efforts both to reflect upon past injustice and to imagine Other recently developed measures of sociopolitical or create new futures for themselves and their communities action were informed by SPD and critical consciousness, (Ginwright, 2010). For example, on social media youth chal- but are not specific to social media. Notably, the Anti-Racist lenge dominant narratives (Gross, 2017), engage in public Action Scale was developed guided by SPD and critical education campaigns (Erlick, 2018), create positive collec- consciousness (Aldana et al., 2019), and the Resistance and tive social identities (Kelly, 2018), offer emotional support Empowerment Against Racism (REAR) Scale also measures to peers facing racism and discrimination (George Mwangi anti-racist actions (Suyemoto et al., 2022). The Anti-Racist et al., 2018), and participate in mass actions like tweet Action Scale includes items that could occur in person or storms to support social movements (Carney, 2016). Artiv- on social media, such as the item “Challenged or checked a ism, a combination of art and activism, is often incorporated friend who uses a racial slur or makes a racial joke” (Aldana into youth sociopolitical actions on social media to resist et al., 2019). Although the Anti-Racist Action Scale does not oppression and imagine new norms and narratives (Perera include any items mentioning social media, the REAR scale et al., 2021). For many young people, sociopolitical action includes one item pertaining to social media: “I publicly on social media is inextricably intertwined with in-person respond to other’s online postings about racial discrimina- sociopolitical actions to support social movements (Wilf & tion” (Suyemoto et al., 2022). Similar to critical conscious- Wray-Lake, 2021). For example, the Movement for Black ness measures of action, the items in these scales (with the Lives used social media to call out interpersonal and struc- exception of the one noted above) do not explicitly note tural racism, provide psychological support, and mobilize where anti-racist actions are taking place, thus making it millions across the globe for in-person protests and voting difficult for researchers to isolate youth sociopolitical action (Carney, 2016). Amid spikes in hate crimes against Asian occurring on social media. Americans during the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, young Several studies have measured youth online political people utilized social media to call out anti-Asian racism participation, but with notable limitations (e.g., Bañales et al., 2020; Jones & Mitchell, 2016; Velasquez & La Rose, 1 3 Adolescent Research Review 2015; Wray-Lake & Sloper, 2016; Yankah et al., 2017). were recruited through the “followers” of social movement First, most of these scales measure individual-level rather chapters on Twitter, including March for Our Lives, Sun- than interpersonal or mass actions, such as a variant of the rise Movement, and Black Lives Matter. Although partici- question asking how often youth “express your opinion pants were not asked to identify their political ideology, it is online regarding a political issue” (Velasquez & La Rose, likely that most participants identified as liberal. We return 2015) or “read social and/or political posts on social net- to this issue in the discussion to further consider how the working sites” (Yankah et al., 2017). Second, these scales sampling shapes the interpretation of findings. Participants were not developed in line with sociopolitical development were contacted through Twitter direct message and invited theory and, correspondingly, were not explicitly focused on for one-hour semi-structured phone interviews, which were youth behaviors online to resist oppression. For example, conducted between March and September 2020. Fourteen the Online Social Activism Scale was developed “to mea- (70%) participants were first or second generation immi - sure an individual’s participation in online social network- grants, 10 (50%) identified as part of non-majority religions ing behaviors specifically related to social and/or political in the U.S., 45% identified as cis-gender men, 40% as cis- views/issues” (Yankah et al., 2017, p. 67). Finally, there are gender women, and 15% as gender nonbinary. Participants documented differences in how youth are civically engaged identified as Asian American (45%), Black (20%), Latinx online by gender (Brandtzaeg, 2017), racial and ethnic iden- (5%), Middle Eastern and North African (10%), Multiracial tity (Auxier, 2020), immigrant identity (Zimmerman, 2016), (10%), and White (10%). and age (Yankah et al., 2017), yet these scales are not vali- dated with these groups. Study I Findings and Item Development Please refer to Wilf and Wray-Lake (2021) for a full account- The Current Studies ing of the methodology and themes in Study I. Critical consciousness, a framework that is closely related to socio- Young people are using a variety of strategic behaviors on political development theory (Diemer et al., 2021), was used social media to counter oppression and enact new liberatory as a sensitizing concept in analysis. Using inductive Con- futures for themselves and their communities. Although stant Comparative Analysis (Fram, 2013), the authors iden- quantitative research has utilized study-specific scales to tified three forms of sociopolitical action on social media measure similar concepts as sociopolitical action on social (which were called online civic engagement) that formed media, such as online political participation, there is a need the basis for items in this scale: Restorying, Building Com- for a scale developed with an anti-oppressive lens based munity, and Taking Collective Action. Each of these forms on sociopolitical development theory. This study, which of sociopolitical action were described by youth as ways is composed of three sequential studies, developed and to resist and heal from the psychological effects of oppres - validated the Sociopolitical Action Scale for Social Media sion. Restorying, where youth reframed, challenged, and (SASSM) with a gender, racially and ethnically, and immi- imagined new narratives, included four sub-themes:(1) per- grant diverse sample of young people, as well as youth sonal storytelling, (2) challenging and reframing dominant from adolescence (14–17) to emerging adulthood (18–25). narratives, (3) envisioning new futures, and (4) self-love. Although young people around the world are engaging in Building community included (1) emotional support and (2) sociopolitical action on social media and their actions to allyship. Youth described emotional support as individual challenge oppression may be similar to those used by young (self-care), relational (providing support to others), and col- people in the U.S., this study focused on U.S.-based youth lective (group healing). Taking collective action included for two reasons: the initial qualitative study upon which (1) holding people accountable and (2) artivism. All youth the scale was based was conducted with U.S. based digital viewed holding people accountable as an important way to activists, and most research using SPD theory has been con- make their voices heard in the face of structural barriers to ducted in the U.S. political participation (such as the voting age). Fewer youth mentioned artivism, but those who did explained that it was Study I Method a powerful tool for resistance and healing. Based on how young people in Study I described their Participants and Procedure online civic engagement, this study conceptualized youth sociopolitical action on social media as behaviors that tran- Participants for Study I, a qualitative study, were youth scend one-time, discrete actions (like using a hashtag or (N = 20) ages 16–21 (M = 19) who were highly civically signing a petition), an approach which allows for a range age engaged on Twitter and resided in 10 U.S. states. Youth of actions and is more resistant to technological advances. 1 3 Adolescent Research Review Because youth are participating in so many distinct actions Study II online to create sociopolitical change, a scale measuring youth sociopolitical action through these distinct types of Participants and Procedure actions could include hundreds, if not thousands, of items. For example, a young person might debate a sociopolitical The Study II sample consisted of 809 participants recruited topic by posting their own opinion, posting a news article, through Instagram advertising in July 2020 to support the sharing someone else’s post, commenting on someone validation of the SASSM. The advertisement redirected else’s post, creating a video, using a hashtag — the list goes participants to an online survey hosted on Qualtrics with a on, and will continue to increase with the growth of new consent form. The sample was majority cis-gender women platforms and tools. Indeed, youth sociopolitical action on (55.7%), with 35.5% cis-gender men and 8.8% non-cisgen- social media is constantly evolving with new technologies, der participants, and age ranged from 14 to 25 years old which could render such a scale rapidly obsolete. To remedy (M =17) with most participants (68.6%) 14–17 years age this issue, the present study aimed to measure youth higher- old. Participants identified as Asian (19.9%), Black / Afri - level actions such as telling their personal story on social can American (11.7%), Hispanic or Latinx/a/o (11.3%), media to challenge stigmas and stereotypes, rather than dis- White (39.9%), and Multiracial (16%), as well as American crete actions such as signing a petition. This approach aligns Indian / Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, better with young people’s own descriptions of their online and Middle Eastern / North African (1.2%). A majority of sociopolitical action (Wilf & Wray-Lake, 2021). respondents (54.5%) identified as first or second generation Items developed for the scale based on the abovemen- immigrants. Participants resided in 40 different U.S. states. tioned themes were identified in the interviews (see Table 1 below for how each theme and sub-theme translated into Study II Methods items). First, items were created based on each theme and sub-theme, without limiting the number of items. Next, In Study II, an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was con- items were reduced or merged to reduce overlap. For ducted with the 16-item scale to test its factorial structure. example, two items focused on holding people account- To determine the best-fitting factor structure eigenvalues, able (differentiated by individuals and institutions) were scree plots, and parallel analysis were utilized (El-Den et merged. Whenever possible, item wording reflected exact al., 2020). Factor loadings were evaluated based on a cut-off terms used by youth in the interviews. The initial item set point of 0.4 (Costello & Osborne, 2005). Model fit indices included items focusing on specific actions (such as “par - were used to evaluate model fit, including the Compara - ticipate in a digital strike or protest for a social or political tive Fit Index (CFI) of ≥ 0.95, the Root Mean Square Error issue”), but these were removed before EFA analysis due of Approximation (RMSEA) of ≤ 0.06, and the Standard- to the scale’s focus on higher-level sociopolitical actions. ized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMR) of ≤ 0.06 (Little, Given that building community was not interpreted in the 2013). same way by all youth, items that reflected the sub-themes of emotional support and allyship were included instead of Study II Results an item on community building. For the SASSM, respondents report the frequency of First, data adequacy tests were conducted in SPSS version engagement online by answering, “How often do you do 27 using Bartlett’s test of sphericity, which confirms a sig - the following on social media?” Responses were a 5-point nificant correlation between variables, and Kaiser-Meyer- frequency scale based on a monthly calendar (Never, Once Olkin (KMO), which examines the proportion of common or twice a month, Once a week, Several times a week, variance between variables. Bartlett’s test of sphericity was and Daily) because almost all U.S.-based youth use social 0.00, under the threshold of 0.05, and KMO was 0.96, indi- media on a daily basis (Vogels et al., 2022). The items were cating that data were satisfactory for factor analysis. Next, worded to be comprehensible to youth from a broad age data normality was examined. Skewness ranged from − 1.00 range. Examples were included in parenthesis for some to 2.13, and kurtosis ranged from − 1.41 to 4.47. These tests items to ensure they were interpreted in the same way by confirmed that data were not normal, with implications for all participants. the EFA (described below). Missing data ranged from 5.30 to 6.70% for each item, with an average of 6.10% missing on each item. Using Little’s MCAR test, data were con- firmed to be missing completely at random ( x = 666.890, df = 645, p = .267). 1 3 Adolescent Research Review Table 1 Study I SASSM Initial Item Development Study I Item Theme and Description from Qualitative Interviews Sub-Theme 1 Raise awareness about a social or political issue on Restorying Youth described raising awareness about important issues that social media (by posting or sharing content, etc) dominant discourse (including media) were ignoring. 2 Educate others about a social or political issue on Restorying Youth educated their followers about important sociopolitical social media (by posting or sharing content, etc) issues. Youth made a distinction between raising awareness and educating others. 3 Debate with others about a social or political issue on Restorying Youth engaged in debate with others on social media to counter social media (through a comment, post, video, etc) and reframe dominant narratives. 4 Share a different perspective on U.S. history on social Challenging A primary way youth challenged dominant narratives was by media than what you were taught (through a comment, and refram- restorying historical narratives, or to include new aspects of post/repost, video, art, etc) ing dominant history that were often ignored. narratives 5 Challenge social stigmas, stereotypes, or prejudices on Challenging Youth challenged social stigmas, such as mental health, and social media (through a comment, post/repost, video, and refram- prejudices, such as around body types that didn’t fit eurocentric etc) ing dominant norms, in their activism. narratives 6 Challenge how the media covers a social or political Challenging Youth explained that due to the media’s outsized influence on issue on social media (through a comment, post/repost, and refram- public discourse, an important way for them to change domi- video, etc) ing dominant nant narratives was by challenging the media. narratives 7 Promote a new way of thinking or a new narrative Envisioning Although youth primarily described challenging existing nar- about a social or political issue that more people need new futures ratives, a minority of youth emphasized that they participated to know about (through posts/reposts, videos, art, etc) in creating new narratives on social media (around allyship, for example). 8 Create and share art on social media about a social or Artivism Youth described creating art online as both important for mobi- political issue (paintings, drawings, music, poems, etc) lizing people around a cause or event, and for personal healing. 9 Give emotional support to others on social media (in Emotional Not all youth saw emotional support as civic engagement, but private messages or public posts) support those who did noted it was a powerful form of resistance online. 10 Encourage your followers to take online social or Taking collec- Youth explicitly encouraged their followers to participate in political action (by raising awareness on social media, tive action social and political change on social media, through a variety of amplifying others, attending virtual town halls, donat- online methods. ing online, signing online petitions, using hashtags, tagging politicians, etc) 11 Encourage your followers to take in-person social or Taking collec- Youth used social media to mobilize their followers for in- political action (by attending in-person rallies, protests, tive action person actions, such as protesting in-person or voting. blood drives, government town halls, etc) 12 Stand in solidarity/ allyship with others on social media Allyship Youth used allyship interchangeably with solidarity, describing (by liking, sharing, or posting content) these actions as important aspects of building community to create change. 13 Fundraise on social media for a social or political issue Taking collec- Youth described fundraising, including mutual aid, as an impor- tive action tant way to be civically engaged online. 14 Hold politicians or corporations accountable on social Holding Holding people accountable was the primary way that youth media for a social or political issue (by tagging them, people described being civically engaged online for collective action, using a hashtag, etc) accountable describing it as a powerful way to force people in power to listen to young people 15 Tell your personal story on social media to challenge Restorying Youth told their personal stories to challenge stigmas, such as stigmas or stereotypes (through videos, blog posts, certain health conditions or mental health, as well as stereotypes poems, art, etc) about their identity groups 16 Tell your personal story on social media to change how Restorying An overaching goal that youth described in personal storytelling people think about a social or political issue (through was to change others’ opinions and awareness about sociopoliti- videos, blog posts, poems, art, etc) cal issues that were important to them Note: This table represents the SASSM after item development was finalized, i.e., once items had been reduced and merged. Next, an EFA was conducted in MPlus version 8.1. sociopolitical action. Full information maximum likelihood Because data were non-normal, maximum likelihood esti- (FIML) estimation was used to handle missing data. The first mation with robust standard errors (MLR) was used. Geo- four eigenvalues of (1) 8.058, (2) 1.247, (3) 0.948, and (4) min Oblique was utilized because the items were expected 0.773, indicated that a two-factor solution might be best fit - to correlate with each other as aspects of youth online ting. Next, the item factor loadings were investigated. In the 1 3 Adolescent Research Review Table 2 Study II and Study III EFA Factor Loadings and Communalities 2 2 Study II λ h Study III (Final) λ h Raise awareness about a social or political issue on social media 0.869 0.755 Raise awareness about a social or political 0.897 0.805 (by posting or sharing content, etc) issue on social media. Educate others about a social or political issue on social media 0.856 0.733 Educate your followers about a social or 0.857 0.735 (by posting or sharing content, etc) political issue on social media. Debate with others about a social or political issue on social 0.575 0.331 Discuss or debate a social or political issue 0.661 0.437 media (through a comment, post, video, etc) on social media. Share a different perspective on U.S. history on social media 0.791 0.626 Share a different perspective on history than 0.737 0.544 than what you were taught (through a comment, post/repost, what you were taught. video, art, etc) Challenge social stigmas, stereotypes, or prejudices on social 0.804 0.646 Challenge stigmas, stereotypes, or prejudices 0.832 0.692 media (through a comment, post/repost, video, etc) on social media. Challenge how the media covers a social or political issue on 0.750 0.563 Share information or perspectives the media 0.840 0.706 social media (through a comment, post/repost, video, etc) isn’t covering about a social or political issue. Promote a new way of thinking or a new narrative about a social 0.822 0.675 Promote a new way of thinking or a new 0.817 0.667 or political issue that more people need to know about (through narrative about a social or political issue that posts/reposts, videos, art, etc) more people need to know about. Create and share art on social media about a social or political 0.442 0.195 Create and share infographics or art (poetry, 0.635 0.403 issue (paintings, drawings, music, poems, etc) paintings, etc) about a social or political issue on social media. Give emotional support to others on social media (in private 0.504 0.254 Provide encouragement or support to others 0.677 0.458 messages or public posts) on social media. Tell your personal story on social media to 0.570 .325 empower others with similar identities or experiences. Encourage your followers to take online social or political 0.830 0.689 Encourage your followers to take social or 0.861 0.742 action (by raising awareness on social media, amplifying others, political action (online or in-person). attending virtual town halls, donating online, signing online petitions, using hashtags, tagging politicians, etc) Encourage your followers to take in-person social or political 0.721 0.520 action (by attending in-person rallies, protests, blood drives, government town halls, etc) Stand in solidarity/ allyship with others on social media (by lik- 0.603 0.363 Stand in solidarity/ allyship with others on 0.775 0.601 ing, sharing, or posting content) social media. Amplify the voices of people who need to be 0.874 0.764 heard on social or political topics. Fundraise on social media for a social or political issue 0.442 0.295 Share links to donate on social media for a 0.720 0.518 social or political cause. Hold politicians or corporations accountable on social media for 0.645 0.416 Call out injustice on social media to hold 0.848 0.720 a social or political issue (by tagging them, using a hashtag, etc) individuals or institutions accountable for their actions. two-factor model, only two items (items #15 and 16 in Table Over half of the items loaded above 0.7, demonstrating 2 above) loaded above 0.30 on the second factor. These two that these items were satisfactory in explaining variance in items were determined to be encompassed in items 5 and 7 the factor (see Table 2). Model fit indices for the 14-item (challenging stigmas, and changing how people think), and scale suggested that a one-factor model was a good fit: the removed from the scale. RMSEA was 0.059, the CFI was 0.951, and the SRMR was A second EFA was conducted with the 14 remaining 0.035 (Little, 2013). items. The first four eigenvalues were (1) 7.407, (2) 0.953, Before conducting Study III, the first author made three (3) 0.861, and (4) 0.770, indicating a one-factor solution. additional changes to the scale based on consultations with Parallel analysis was used to determine the number of fac- the second author and feedback from participants (Boateng tors to retain using randomly generated correlation matrices et al., 2018). Items 10 and 11 (encouraging others to take (Hayton et al., 2004). The first two eigenvalues randomly action online and in-person) were merged to increase par- generated were (1) 1.268 and (2) 1.206. Because the second simony and reduce confusion. An open-ended question in randomly generated eigenvalue was slightly larger than the the survey asking “Did we miss anything? Are there other second eigenvalue, a one-factor solution was determined. ways you engage on social media for social and political 1 3 Adolescent Research Review issues?” resulted in two additional items on personal sto- or at least 10 participants per item, are sufficient for using rytelling and amplifying marginalized voices (see Table 2 structural equation modeling (Kline, 2015). below for changes from the Study II to the Study III sur- In Study III, an EFA was first conducted with the ran - vey). Lastly, most examples in parentheses were removed domly selected sample of 250 participants to confirm the from the items to facilitate comprehension, with the excep- factor structure from Study II. Then, the rest of the Study tion of artivism, as the term “art” may not be understood by III sample (n = 570) was utilized to conduct a CFA to evalu- all youth as inclusive of poetry, paintings, infographics, and ate model fit indices, following guidelines on goodness-of- other media. fit cut-offs described above (Little, 2013). The same CFA sample (n = 570) was then used to conduct convergent valid- Study III ity tests with two theoretically related constructs (political efficacy and critical reflection). Finally, due to low sample Participants and Procedure sizes for certain racial and ethnic groups, the entire Study III sample (n = 820) was used to conduct configural, metric and The Study III sample consisted of 820 participants, recruited scalar measurement invariance tests by age, gender, race and through Instagram advertising in October 2020 to validate ethnicity, and immigrant identity. Measurement invariance the SASSM. Participants identified as cis-gender women determines whether items hold similar meaning for partici- (45.9%), cis-gender men (43.5%), gender nonbinary/ non- pants from different groups using a series of nested models conforming (7.3%), and transgender (7.9%). Participants’ that test for equivalent factor loadings (metric invariance) ages ranged from 14 to 25 years old (M =17) with most and item intercepts (scalar invariance) (Little, 2013). The age participants (63.9%) ages 14–17. Participants identified configural model with no imposed constraints is compared as Asian (18.2%), Black / African American (8.1%), His- to the metric model with factor loadings constrained to be panic or Latinx/a/o (11.7%), White (46.1%), and Multiracial equal across groups, and the metric model is compared to (13.7%), as well as a small number of participants who iden- the scalar model that constrains both the factor loadings tified as American Indian / Alaska Native, Native Hawai - and the item intercepts to equality across groups. Theory ian or Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern / North African suggests that little-to-no changes in the CFI (△CFI > 0.01), (2.2%). Participants who selected more than one racial and RMSEA (△RMSEA > 0.01), and SRMR (△SRMR > 0.025) ethnic identity were coded as multiracial. Participants who demonstrate no significant decreases in model fit (Little, did not select a category but wrote in a racial/ ethnic identity 2013). If any of these three fit indices were insufficient, par - were categorized by the first author based on U.S. Census tial invariance testing would be pursued. descriptions (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). For measurement invariance tests by racial and ethnic identity, participants Study III Measures who identified as American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and Middle Eastern/North In addition to the SASSM, Study III utilized two scales African were removed, as low sample size precluded model to test convergent validity: critical reflection and political estimation. A high percentage of participants (47.9%) iden- efficacy. A positive correlation between the SASSM scale tified as first or second generation immigrants. Respondents and the two latent variables of political efficacy and criti - from 45 U.S. states were represented. cal reflection was hypothesized, supported by prior empiri - cal research linking the three concepts (Hope et al., 2016; Study III Methods Diemer et al., 2017). In Study III, an EFA and CFA were conducted with the Critical Reflection Critical reflection was measured by an modified 15-item scale to confirm the unidimensional factor 8-item sub-scale adapted from Diemer et al. 2017 (α = 0.90). structure and to examine model consistency. An EFA and The full scale has three components (Critical Reflection: CFA are typically conducted on two independent samples Perceived Inequality, Critical Action: Sociopolitical Par- (Little, 2013). Because of changes made to the SASSM ticipation, and Critical Reflection: Egalitarianism). For this between Study II and Study III, the second sample of 820 study, only the first sub-scale (Critical Reflection: Perceived youth was randomly split into two independent samples Inequality) was utilized. The items assess perceived societal to conduct an EFA (n = 250) and a CFA (n = 570). This inequalities due to class, race, and gender, such as “Certain approach has been used in previous psychological scale racial or ethnic groups have fewer chances to get a good high validation research (e.g., Diemer et al., 2017), and aligns school education” and “Poor people have fewer chances to with guidelines that sample sizes of 100–200 participants, 1 3 Adolescent Research Review Table 3 Final Item Study III Confirmatory Factor Loadings (N=570) No. Item λ SE R Skewness Kurtosis 1 Raise awareness about a social or political issue on social media. .874 .014 .765 .272 -1.319 2 Educate your followers about a social or political issue on social media. .881 .014 .776 .378 -1.285 3 Discuss or debate a social or political issue on social media. .695 .027 .483 .492 -1.103 4 Share a different perspective on history than what you were taught. .753 .024 .567 .653 − .864 5 Challenge stigmas, stereotypes, or prejudices on social media. .831 .019 .691 .312 -1.352 6 Share information or perspectives the media isn’t covering about a social or political issue. .839 .017 .705 .431 -1.171 7 Promote a new way of thinking or a new narrative about a social or political issue that more .830 .016 .689 .572 − .949 people need to know about. 8 Create and share infographics or art (poetry, paintings, etc) about a social or political issue .643 .030 .413 .981 − .352 on social media. 9 Provide encouragement or support to others on social media. .682 .024 .465 -1.256 − .251 10 Tell your personal story on social media to empower others with similar identities or .573 .031 .329 1.482 1.288 experiences. 11 Encourage your followers to take social or political action (online or in-person). .843 .018 .710 .571 -1.110 12 Stand in solidarity/ allyship with others on social media. .793 .020 .628 .040 -1.477 13 Amplify the voices of people who need to be heard on social or political topics. .854 .016 .729 .306 -1.317 14 Share links to donate on social media for a social or political cause. .739 .021 .545 1.047 − .019 15 Call out injustice on social media to hold individuals or institutions accountable for their .857 .016 .735 .306 -1.317 actions. Note: All factor loadings were signic fi ant at p < .001. Lambda (λ) indicates standardized factor loadings. get good jobs.” The scale was measured on a five-point Lik - and Geomin Oblique rotation were utilized to conduct the ert scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. EFA in Mplus version 8.1. Similar to Study II, the first three eigenvalues (9.484, 0.771, and 0.705 respectively) indicated Political Efficacy The Political Efficacy scale is a 4-item that a one-factor solution might be the best fit to the data, scale adapted from Hope and Jagers (2014), (α = 0.57) and which was further confirmed by parallel analysis using ran - Hope (2016), (α = 0.75). The scale measures youth percep- domly generated correlation matrices (1.445, 1.343, 1.267, tions of their own efficacy in improving society and creating and 1.194). Only the first eigenvalue of 9.484 was higher change. The scale is coded so that higher numbers indicate than the randomly generated value of 1.445, suggesting a greater efficacy. The items are on a five-point likert scale one-factor solution was best. The majority of the items (11 from strongly agree to strongly disagree, and include items out of 15) loaded above 0.7, and all items loaded above the such as “I believe that by participating in politics I can make suggested cut-off of 0.4. All but two of the item loadings a difference,” and “I have the skills and knowledge neces - increased from the Study II to the Study III EFA, indicating sary to participate in politics.” that wording changes strengthened the scale. Confirmatory Factor Analysis The one-factor model in the Study III Results Study III EFA was cross-validated by conducting a CFA with the random, independent sample of 570 participants Exploratory Factor Analysis A random sample of 250 youth to evaluate how well each item in the scale loaded onto the was selected for the EFA from the Study III sample of 820 single factor (Kline, 2015). Maximum likelihood estimation youth, leaving 570 youth for the CFA (described below). with robust standard errors (MLR) was used because the Data were not normally distributed, with most items having data were not normally distributed (see Table 3). The fixed kurtosis less than − 1. Bartlett’s test of sphericity was signif- factor method was used to scale the latent construct. Model icant at χ (105) = 3,375.853, p < .001, and the Kaiser-Meyer- fit indices indicated the one-factor solution was a good Olkin measure of sampling adequacy was 0.747, indicating fit to the data, well within the acceptable cut-off ranges: that data were favorable for factor analysis. Missing data SRMR = 0.025, RMSEA = 0.045, and CFI = 0.975. The Chi- ranged from 4.9 to 7.2% on each item; thus FIML was uti- Square test was significant, indicating model misfit to the lized to use all available data. Little’s MCAR test confirmed data, at x (90, N = 570) = 106.17, p = .00, yet prior research that data were missing completely at random (x = 226.980, has found the Chi-Square test to be sensitive to large sam- df = 213, p = .243). ple sizes and recommends prioritizing relative fit indices Because data were not normally distributed, maximum (Babyak & Green, 2010). Overall, the scale demonstrated likelihood estimation with robust standard errors (MLR) a moderate to strong fit to the data, with the lowest factor 1 3 Adolescent Research Review Table 4 Goodness-of-Fit Indicators for Measurement Invariance by Subgroup Subgroup Model df x RMSEA CFI SRMR Decision △RMSEA △CFI △SRMR Gender (N = 3 groups) Configural 270 480.512 0.053 -- 0.967 -- 0.033 -- Metric 298 621.205 0.055 .002 0.962 .005 0.053 .019 Accept Scalar 326 679.436 0.058 .005 0.952 .015 0.060 .025 Reject Partial Scalar* 324 679.561 0.055 .002 0.958 .009 0.057 .024 Accept Racial/ ethnic Background (N = 5 groups) Configural 450 701.243 0.059 -- 0.963 -- 0.037 -- Metric 506 875.297 0.056 .004 0.962 .001 0.050 .013 Accept Scalar 562 920.437 0.056 .004 0.957 .005 0.054 .017 Accept Age (N = 2 groups) Configural 180 383.785 0.054 -- 0.968 -- 0.028 -- Metric 194 496.070 0.054 .000 0.964 .004 0.040 .012 Accept Scalar 208 532.820 0.053 .001 0.964 .004 0.041 .013 Accept Configural 180 383.064 0.052 -- 0.968 -- 0.029 -- Immigrant Origin (N = 2 groups) Metric 194 519.557 0.051 .001 0.968 -- 0.033 .004 Accept Scalar 208 531.010 0.050 .002 0.967 .001 0.034 .005 Accept Note: Chi-square calculations were completed using the scaling correction factor for MLR. *Model freed two item intercepts for cis-gender males. Table 5 Correlations Among Latent Constructs, Study III Sample (n= loading 0.573 and the majority loading above 0.7, providing 820) evidence that the scale aligned with this study’s conceptual- Variables SASSM Critical ization of youth sociopolitical action on social media. Reflection: perceived inequality SASSM -- Measurement Invariance Critical Reflection: perceived inequality .341** -- Political Efficacy .438** .240 ** Gender Measurement invariance testing was conducted **p < .01 with three gender groups: cis-gender women, cis-gender men, and non-cisgender youth (including nonbinary, trans- gender, and youth with other gender identities combined Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino/a/x, due to low sample sizes). The configural and metric mod - Multiracial, and White. Fit indices for the configural model els fit well across groups (see Table 4), but changes in CFI confirmed that the one factor model was a good fit. Next from the metric to scalar model were higher than recom- model comparison tests were used to confirm metric and sca - mended (△CFI = 0.015). Based on modification indices, lar invariance (see Table 5). Scalar invariance was achieved. the intercepts for two items were freed for cis-gender men However, the sample size for Black and Latinx participants (Little, 2013), resulting in partial scalar invariance by gen- was under 100 for each group, and therefore results for these der. Intercepts were freed for Item #3: Discuss or debate a two groups should be interpreted with caution. social or political issue on social media, where compared to cis-gender women (M = 2.54) and non-cisgender youth Age Measurement invariance testing was conducted for (M = 2.32) the intercepts for cis-gender men were higher two age groups as determined by literature documenting (M = 2.99). Based on the item average of 1 standard devia- differences in youth civic engagement in high school (ages tion (SD = 1.38), these differences represented 0.33 and 0.49 14–17), and emerging adulthood (18–25). Fit indices con- SDs. Intercepts were also freed for Item #7: Promote a new firmed that the configural model was a good fit (see Table way of thinking or a new narrative about a social or political 4). Next changes in fit indices were used to confirm metric issue that more people need to know about, where cis-gen- and scalar invariance. Metric invariance was established, der women (M = 2.56) and non-cisgender youth (M = 2.32) indicating that participants in high school and beyond inter- had lower means compared to cis-gender men (M = 2.82), preted the scale in similar ways. Scalar invariance was well representing 0.19 and 0.37 SDs (average SD = 1.35). A Wald established across both age groups. Test of parameter restraints confirmed no significant differ - ence between the intercepts on either item for cis-gender Immigrant Identity Measurement invariance testing was women and non-cisgender youth. conducted with two groups comprised of youth of first or second generation immigrant origin (i.e., either the par- Racial and Ethnic Background Next, invariance testing was ticipant or one or both parents were born outside of the conducted for youth from five racial and ethnic groups: U.S.), and non-immigrant youth. Strong invariance was 1 3 Adolescent Research Review established across these two groups, with small changes identity, which is important for supporting its use across a between configural, metric, and scalar models. Thus, first range of groups. and second generation immigrant and non-immigrant youth Although prior research suggests that youth online socio- interpreted the scale similarly. political action may be composed of several dimensions (Wilf & Wray-Lake, 2021), this study’s analyses concluded that a one-factor solution was the best fit for the scale. This Convergent Validity scale may be unidimensional because digital spaces allow for greater overlap and synergy between types of socio- Next convergent validity was examined to evaluate whether political actions. Indeed, youth may engage in multiple the SASSM was correlated with conceptually related con- higher-level sociopolitical actions in a single post (Wilf et structs of political efficacy and critical reflection. Using al., 2022). The scale may also be unidimensional because it MPlus version 8.1, structural equation modeling estimated measures young people’s more frequent online sociopoliti- correlations among the latent variables of online sociopoliti- cal action, rather than long-term participation in coordinated cal action using the SASSM, political efficacy and critical organizing online. Levels of youth sociopolitical engage- reflection. Like the measurement invariance tests, the entire ment may change over time, and it is important to consider Study III sample of 820 participants was used to increase the implications of sporadic versus prolonged engagement power to detect statistical significance. (Wray-Lake & Shubert, 2019), as these changing levels may As hypothesized, a significant positive correlation of shape other aspects of youth development, such as identity 0.438 was found between the SASSM and political efficacy, (Mathews et al., 2022) and wellbeing (Ballard & Ozer, higher than past studies that have reported correlations rang- 2016). Based on Study I interviews, the authors concluded ing from 0.21 to 0.40 (See Table 5; Hope et al., 2016). A sig- that measuring more frequent actions was most aligned with nificant positive correlation of 0.341 was found between the young people’s own descriptions of their online sociopo- SASSM and critical reflection: perceived inequality, which litical action. However, a focus on more frequent behaviors is also slightly higher than previously documented associa- may not capture the full extent of youth sociopolitical action tions with in-person actions that ranged from 0.18 to 0.29. on social media. Therefore, these findings are consistent with prior research The scale achieved partial scalar invariance by gender demonstrating positive associations between youth political by freeing the intercepts for two items for cis-gender men, efficacy and critical reflection, and their online sociopoliti - related to debating and promoting new narratives. These cal action. Indeed, these results show that the associations results are compatible with prior research demonstrating between these constructs and youth online sociopolitical that men are more likely to voice their opinions both online action may be even greater than with their in-person socio- and offline (Brandtzaeg, 2017). Particularly online, where political actions. women (Ortiz, 2021) and transgender people (Erlick, 2018) often face targeted bullying and harassment, they may be less likely to debate with others. Overall gender differ - Discussion ences were small, and despite these differences the SASSM provides a reasonable assessment of online sociopolitical In sociopolitical development theory (SPD), sociopoliti- action across genders. Further, the SASSM’s validation cal action is an important dimension of youth development with both cis-gender and non-cisgender youth is important whereby young people challenge and resist oppressive sys- because research shows that non-cisgender youth often use tems through strategic liberatory actions (Watts et al., 2011). social media as a space to challenge systems of oppression Increasingly, young people are engaging in sociopolitical (Erlick, 2018). action online to challenge oppression and injustice (Anyiwo Convergent validity tests showed that the SASSM was et al., 2020), yet scholarship to date has lacked a validated significantly correlated with critical reflection and political scale to measure youth sociopolitical action on social media. efficacy, the two other central dimensions of sociopolitical This study documented the development and validation of development theory. This evidence demonstrates that the a scale to measure youth sociopolitical action on social SASSM is well aligned with this study’s theoretical con- media, utilizing a sequential multi-method approach includ- ceptualization of sociopolitical action taken by youth online ing qualitative interviews to develop the scale, and quanti- to challenge oppression. Furthermore, this study found that tative surveys completed by 1,629 youth in two waves of youth sociopolitical action on social media may be even data collection. Analyses showed evidence of validity of the more strongly correlated with other dimensions of sociopo- scale by age, gender, racial/ethnic identity, and immigration litical development than their in-person sociopolitical action (see, e.g., Diemer et al., 2017; Hope, 2016), an idea to be 1 3 Adolescent Research Review tested in future research. Perhaps young people are better measures of online civic engagement by presenting evi- able to align sociopolitical actions with their critical reflec - dence of validity across many groups and by using an anti- tion and political efficacy in online spaces because there are oppressive lens, which aligns with SPD. Indeed, the SASSM fewer barriers to online relative to in-person sociopolitical builds on past research on sociopolitical action by focusing action (Marchi & Clark, 2021). on social media as the space where those actions take place This study defined online sociopolitical action as young (Carney, 2016), which can be used in future studies to better people’s individual, relational, and collective efforts on capture youth’s sociopolitical actions where it is happening. digital platforms and social media to expose and rectify sys- This scale would be useful in research that examines the tems of oppression and inequity. The authors are confident extent to which processes of sociopolitical development, that the SASSM aligns with this definition for several rea - as well as other developmental experiences, predict youth sons. First, convergent validity tests show that the SASSM online sociopolitical action, and how youth online socio- is associated with the first two dimensions of SPD, critical political action may relate to their in-person sociopolitical reflection and political efficacy, indicating that the SASSM action. A primary question of interest for scholars studying (representing the third dimension of sociopolitical action) is youth critical consciousness and sociopolitical development an integral part of youth sociopolitical development. Sec- is whether and to what extent youth critical reflection and ond, item development was based on themes inductively political efficacy translate into critical action (e.g., Bañales identified in Study I with young digital activists and modi - et al., 2020). The SASSM could also support scholarship fied based on feedback from young people in the Study II exploring whether and how online sociopolitical action survey, reflecting how young people themselves refer to could act as a protective factor from racism and discrimina- their own sociopolitical action online. Study I analysis was tion by providing youth with a space to process and heal guided by an anti-oppressive lens, which is a core aspect from negative experiences, as qualitative research suggests of SPD, and most participants explicitly linked their online (Erlick, 2018). More broadly, scholars can use this scale to sociopolitical action to resisting systems of oppression. supplement measures of youth in-person civic engagement, Further, the SASSM expands the SPD literature and cur- resulting in a more complete and holistic view into young rent measures of critical consciousness (e.g., Diemer et al., people’s civic lives. 2017) by incorporating a focus on psychological forms of Several limitations are important to note. First, Study I resistance to oppression identified in Study I, such as: chal - was conducted with young digital activists engaged in more lenging dominant narratives, providing emotional support ideologically liberal causes such as climate justice and gun to others, and telling one’s personal story to empower others violence prevention. Because of this lens, it cannot be deter- with similar identities and experiences (Wilf & Wray-Lake, mined whether this scale is relevant for youth who do not 2021). Although these forms of resistance are not included believe that structural oppression and discrimination exist, in current measures of sociopolitical action (e.g., Thomas a limitation that is also evident in many other measures of et al., 2014), youth in Study I were clear that these behav- sociopolitical action. Moreover, Study I’s qualitative sam- iors are forms of sociopolitical action that expose and seek pling strategy likely did not capture all perspectives of those to rectify systems of oppression. One area that the SASSM facing marginalization from historical and contemporary does not measure is more formal organizing efforts youth oppressions, and these experiences do not necessarily align are engaged in through social movements or organizations, with being politically liberal or conservative. Thus, like which could include using social media to coordinate and most existing measures of youth civic and sociopolitical plan actions. For example, organizers might use social media engagement, the SASSM may still be somewhat ambiguous to communicate with other organizers to plan a tweet storm as to how the civic actor defines and conceptualizes oppres - around a specific event or topic. Because a small percentage sion. Future work must continue to align conceptualiza- of young people are using social media for organizing at this tion, measurement, and sampling in studies of resistance to level, the SASSM does not include items measuring these oppression to add further clarity to the field. types of actions. Future research may benefit from develop - Another limitation was that Study II and III took place ment of a more targeted scale to measure youth organizing at distinct sociopolitical moments that may have affected on social media. youth responses. Study II was conducted in July 2020, in the This study had several strengths, including its ground- midst of COVID-19 and a surge in participation in the Black ing in qualitative interviews with young digital activists and Lives Matter movement, which may have led to changes in its refinement based on youth feedback from the surveys. certain kinds of youth online sociopolitical action, such as Moreover, the scale was validated with youth representing an increase in allyship (Wilf & Wray-Lake, 2021). Study diverse gender, racial and ethnic, age, and immigrant status III took place in October 2020, when youth contended with groups. Thus, the SASSM advances beyond other existing COVID-19 uncertainty and hybrid schooling, and may have 1 3 Adolescent Research Review decreased their online sociopolitical action. Researchers SASSM to address important questions regarding youth should continue to revisit and revise conceptualizations of civic engagement and associations with other key develop- online sociopolitical action to capture how it may evolve in mental processes, such as critical consciousness and identity response to future sociopolitical moments. development. Ultimately, a validated scale to measure youth A final limitation was the limited racial and ethnic, gen - everyday online sociopolitical action can lead to more rigor- der, and non-U.S. diversity of our sample. Due to low sam- ous research and better designed programs for youth socio- ple sizes, non-cisgender youth were combined into a third political engagement and education, and will support the category. This decision was intended to include all youth in important civic work in which youth are already engaged. analysis, but non-cisgender youth (i.e., transgender, nonbi- Acknowledgements The authors are grateful for all the young people nary, and youth of other genders) should not be conflated, as who generously shared their time and perspectives. Without their feed- they may participate in online sociopolitical action in dis- back and support this manuscript would not have been possible. tinct ways. Further, although measurement invariance tests showed that Asian, Black, Latinx, Multiracial, and White Authors’ Contribution SW conceived of the study, recruited partici- pants, conducted interviews, developed the initial draft of the scale, youth interpreted the scale similarly, measurement invari- and led the manuscript writing. LWL supported the study design, ance testing by racial and ethnic identity was unable to analysis for all three studies, and reviewed and edited the manuscript. include youth from other groups (i.e., Native American or Middle Eastern youth) due to low sample sizes. The Study Funding The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial sup - III sample used for the CFA had under 100 participants for port for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by the UCLA Luskin Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. So- Black and Latinx youth, so results for these two racial and cial Justice Award. ethnic groups should be interpreted with caution. Third, because the entire sample for this study was U.S.-based and Declarations SPD has been studied most rigorously in the U.S. (Heberle et al., 2020), this study cannot make any determinations about Conflict of Interest The authors report no conflict of interests. whether this scale would be relevant for non-U.S.-based youth. Given that young people are increasingly taking part Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons in online sociopolitical action around the world (Mainsah & Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, Dralega, 2014) and youth across countries can connect and as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the coordinate in sociopolitical action, future work that exam- source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate ines online sociopolitical action outside the U.S is urgently if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this needed. Finally, although prior research has documented article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not differences in youth social media activism by sexuality (Jen - included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended zen, 2022), this study did not ask participants about their use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted sexuality and therefore could not conduct measurement use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright invariance testing. Future research using the SASSM could holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons. org/licenses/by/4.0/. validate the scale for youth with different sexual identities. References Conclusion Aldana, A., Bañales, J., & Richards-Schuster, K. (2019). 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Adolescent Research Review – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 1, 2023
Keywords: Adolescence; Emerging adulthood; Scale development; Sociopolitical development; Technology; Online activism
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