University of Illinois at Chicago
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Place Attachment, Civic Engagement, and Collective Well-Being among Chicago’s Puerto Rican Youth

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posted on 2017-03-03, 00:00 authored by Mayra L. Estrella
The purpose of this qualitative case study was to address critical gaps in the literature about the meanings of place attachment and its role in promoting civic behaviors that contribute to collective well-being among civically engaged Puerto Rican youth. To further knowledge in this area, I utilized community-based participatory approaches and employed qualitative methods, including group discussions, photography, and written narratives in a methodology known as Photovoice. In collaboration with a community-based organization located in Chicago, Illinois, a purposive sample of twelve civically engaged Puerto Rican youth (ages 16–20) participated in ten Photovoice sessions as co-researchers. They took photos of places in the community setting that evoked feelings of place attachment and reflected on why these places have special meanings. Study findings informed the development of a refined conceptual model to help better understand the relationship between place attachment, civic engagement, and collective well-being. To my knowledge, this is the first study focused on examining both the context of developing attachment to place and the behavioral consequences of attachment among civically engaged Puerto Rican youth. Results showed that a sense of attachment was critical in shaping the ways in which youth participate in community-based health promotion efforts. The attachment to the community prepared youth to be critically involved in civic engagement activities of the community based organization. The youth co-researchers’ involvement in the community was a positive coping mechanism for overcoming obstacles as they framed personal problems within a collective narrative. Finally, for the participants, civic engagement was an expression of active resistance and a way of overcoming the traumatic experiences of racism and inequality. The findings from this study demonstrated that youth can be positive agents of change in their communities and can contribute to improve collective well-being. Further, these findings could inform public health programs that engage Latino and other minority youth in community-based health promotion efforts.



Kelley, Michele A.


School of Public Health

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Committee Member

Altfeld, Susan Peacock, Nadine Flores-Gonzalez, Nilda Caskey, Rachel N.

Submitted date



  • en

Issue date


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