While schools have long played a role in developing citizens for the imagined community, this article argues that an overlooked consideration is the role schools play in fostering students’ feelings of belonging. This theoretical article asks, What is missing from this current view of students’ political socialization and how can integrating an ecological theory of development with research regarding belonging from the political science, sociology, psychology, and youth development fields help develop a more complete understanding of youth’s political development? After first introducing Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory of development, the paper brings together research from the various disciplines listed above to examine the concept of belonging. Lastly, it reviews the political socialization literature integrating the ecological understanding of development and belonging to demonstrate the strength of bringing these concepts together. Thus, the paper provides a more holistic view of schools’ role in the development of citizens and of students’ political development.


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pp. 29-60
Launched on MUSE
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