The Promise of Qualitative Methods for Expanding Theories of Positive Youth Development

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This special issue highlights the theoretical and methodological contributions of positive youth development (PYD), and how the field could be further deepened and revitalized by more purposeful inclusion of qualitative methods throughout its studies. Specifically, pairing PYD with qualitative methods allows it to respond more directly to the following critiques of developmental psychology from which it developed: that it is largely deficit-based, that it focuses solely on the individual instead of interaction with context, and that it overemphasizes outcomes and overlooks processes of development. Each article in this issue employs qualitative methods to address one or more of these critiques by exploring topics such as mentoring, adolescent relationships, relationship processes, schooling experiences, and participation. As emphasized by each contributor in this issue, qualitative methods hold particular promise for privileging youth voice and excavating new possibilities for PYD grounded in youth perspective. The articles in this issue offer PYD and other developmental researchers an avenue for opening their inquiry to include qualitative methods, by highlighting how they advance our understanding of effective youth development.

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