The role of multisystemic resilience in fostering critical agency: UK adolescents during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sarah Weidman* (Corresponding Author), Diane T. Levine, Fransiska Louwagie, Kara Blackmore, Linda C. Theron, Dov J. Stekel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Critical agency (CA) refers to an individual’s feeling of power in relation to social inequalities. Research has demonstrated that high CA is associated with positive adolescent outcomes, however, less is known about what supports are important for its development. Moreover, a large majority of the literature is based on studies from the US and various countries in Africa; although the UK is saturated with inequalities there is little research within a UK context. In this paper we examine (a) the validity of using an existing measure of CA with a sample of UK adolescents and (b) the extent to which resilience supports account for variance in CA. Our analysis identified two distinct factors of CA: justice-oriented and community-oriented. High CA in both factors was explained by resilience supports associated with peer relationships (p < 0.01). Our findings push us towards new relational, ecological ways of understanding adolescent CA. We close by instantiating a translational framework for those devising policies in support of youth resilience and CA.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Psychology
Early online date4 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Jason Hughes (University of Leicester): The authors would like to thank Prof Hughes for his thorough and insightful review of the draft paper.

Ellen McWhirter and Benedict McWhirter (University of Oregon): The authors would like to thank Prof McWhirter and Prof McWhirter for their permission to use the MACC, and their interest in our work.

Alice Phoenix and Lucie Spicer (Shout Out UK): The authors would like to thank Alice and Lucie for their help recruiting and communicating with schools, teachers, and project participants.

Cartooning for Peace: The authors would like to thank the Cartooning for Peace organisation for their valuable work during the mini-course associated with this project.

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AH/V015060/1).

Data Availability Statement

The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are available in the University of Leicester Figshare repository:


  • Adolescents
  • Covid-19
  • Critical Agency
  • Critical Consciousness
  • Resilience


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