Affiliations: Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA
Note:  Address for correspondence: Richard M. Lerner, Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development, 305 Lincoln Filene, 10 Upper Campus Road, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA. Tel.: +617 627 5558; Fax: +617 6275596; E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Within contemporary developmental science, models derived from relational developmental systems (RDS) metatheory emphasize that the basic process of human development involves mutually-influential relations, termed developmental regulations, between the developing individual and his or her complex and changing physical, social, and cultural contexts, represented as individual ←→ context relations. When relations are mutually beneficial, they are termed adaptive developmental regulations. Civic engagement develops within the context of adaptive developmental regulations. Individuals' positive engagement with, and contributions to, family, community, and civil society constitutes their contributions to the individual ←→ context exchanges marking positive integration between people and society. We discuss the development of civic engagement using RDS-based metatheory and review methodological issues raised by studying the development of civic engagement within RDS-based models. We conclude by discussing potential implications of civic engagement development theory for future research and applications aimed at promoting individual thriving and freedom, liberty, and social justice.