Critical consciousness and psychological well-being among youth in India

Narayanan Annalakshmi, Krishnan Rakhi, Jothish K J, Murugesan Murugesan


Critical consciousness (CC) is the ability to perceive social, political, and economic oppression in the society and includes taking action against the oppressive elements of society. CC has been mainly explored in the western
cultures. CC has not been studied in the Asian culture which is distinctly different from the western culture in several
ways including the presence of social hierarchy that are firmly laid down. The present study examines the
relationship between critical consciousness and psychological well-being measures like alienation, self-efficacy,
and life satisfaction among youth in India. It was hypothesized that a higher level of critical consciousness would be
related to higher levels of well-being. This was tested on a sample of 345 (Males=164) students in the age group 17
to 26 years. Participants completed self-report measures of critical consciousness, alienation, self-efficacy and life
satisfaction. Critical consciousness was assessed in terms of two factors pertaining to critical reflection, namely,
perceived inequality and egalitarianism, and one factor relating to critical action, namely, socio-political
participation. Females were higher on egalitarianism and lower on socio-political participation compared to males.
Significant differences between communities on perceived inequality was found: MBC group was higher on
perceived inequality compared to OC and BC group. The different groups on religion do not differ from each other
on critical consciousness. Egalitarianism was negatively correlated with both perceived inequality and sociopolitical
participation. All three dimensions of critical consciousness predicted alienation. Perceived inequality and
socio-political participation positively predicted alienation while egalitarianism negatively predicted alienation.
Egalitarianism positively predicted both self-efficacy and life satisfaction. The findings point towards a need to reexamine
the meaning of critical consciousness with special reference to the cultural context.


critical consciousness, alienation, self-efficacy, life satisfaction, well-being

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