Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Gabriel P. Kuperminc

Second Advisor

Sierra Carter

Third Advisor

Josefina Bañales

Fourth Advisor

Laura G. McKee


Civic action refers to participation in various prosocial and political activities to improve one’s community. Marginalized social identities and discrimination based on these identities often shape civic action among immigrant-origin youth of color (IYOC). IYOC face interpersonal and structural discrimination that affect their development and integration into U.S. society. In the context of such forms of discrimination, civic action is an important resource for IYOC, as it can be an adaptive response to navigate and to challenge discrimination. Dimensions of ethnic-racial identity (ERI) also promote positive outcomes in the context of discrimination and are likely to contribute to IYOC’s civic participation. However, the extent to which ERI dimensions might moderate associations between both interpersonal and structural levels of discrimination and civic action is unclear.

This study examined unique and interactive effects of both interpersonal (ethnic-racial) and structural discrimination and two dimensions of ERI (exploration and commitment) on three types of civic action: conventional political action, activism, and community service among IYOC. Participants were 213 emerging adults (Mage = 19.69, SD = 2.03) residing in Georgia who completed an online survey of facilitators and barriers to civic action. Most participants were second-generation immigrants (79%), female (74%), and of Black/African descent (37%). Data collection began in spring 2021 and concluded in spring 2022.

Interpersonal and structural discrimination had differential associations with civic action and ERI dimensions. Moderation analyses revealed significant interactions of interpersonal discrimination and ERI commitment explaining variance in conventional political action, and of structural discrimination and ERI exploration explaining variance in activism. Interpersonal discrimination was positively related to conventional political action at low levels of commitment. Structural discrimination was positively related to activism at high levels of exploration.

Findings underscore the importance of investigating the interplay between individual and sociopolitical factors when examining IYOC’s active participation in their communities and in society at large. Findings can inform future research on the civic development and wellbeing of IYOC and have implications for the development of intervention efforts aimed at empowering IYOC to resist and challenge discrimination via action.


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