PhD revisited: Students’ Perceptions of Democracy, Politics, and Citizenship Preparation and Implications for Social Studies Education
Keywords:Social studies; citizenship education; democracy; politics
While several studies have investigated young people’s attitudes towards and participation in democracy and politics, as well as the influence of citizenship education on young people’s political participation, few studies have explored students’ perceptions of the concepts of democracy and politics and their own perceptions of citizenship education. The purpose of this study is to investigate the theme of democracy and politics in social studies in upper secondary school. Methodologically, this study relied on multiple methods of data collection and analysis to investigate students’ perceptions: Qualitative focus groups and interviews and a quantitative survey. To analyse students’ perceptions, I drew on citizenship education literature, focusing on the role and teaching of school subjects such as social studies, as well as political theory, focusing on theoretical perspectives on the concepts of democracy and politics. The findings show that the students perceived ‘democracy’ and ‘politics’ both in terms of top-down notions of government and other political institutions and bottom-up perspectives focused on discussions and other non-institutional aspects of democratic politics. Moreover, the findings indicate that students perceived social studies as valuable in terms of preparing them for current and future citizenship and that their enjoyment and aspects of instruction were most strongly associated with these perceptions.
Arensmeier, C. (2010). The democratic common sense. Young Swedes’ understanding of democracy – Theoretical features and educational incentives. Young, 18(2), 197-222. https://doi.org/10.1177/110330881001800205
Avery, P. G., Levy, S. A., Simmons, A. M. M., & Scarlett, M. H. (2012). Adolescents’ conceptions of democracy in Central/Eastern Europe and the United States. Journal of International Social Studies, 2(2), 25-51.
Barber, B. (1984). Strong democracy: Participatory politics for a new age. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Barry, N. (2000). An introduction to modern political theory (4th ed.). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-26641-5
Biesta, G. J. J. (2011a). The ignorant citizen: Mouffe, Rancière, and the subject of democratic education. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 30(2), 141-153. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-011-9220-4
Biesta, G. J. J. (2011b). Learning democracy in school and society: Education, lifelong learning, and the politics of citizenship. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006) Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
Christensen, T. S. (2015). Hvad er samfundsfag? [What is social studies?]. In T. S. Christensen (Ed.), Fagdidaktik i samfundsfag [Subject didactics in social studies] (pp. 9-41). Fredriksberg, Denmark: Frydenlund.
Cohen, J. (2002). Deliberation and democratic legitimacy. In D. Estlund (Ed.), Democracy (pp. 8-106). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research methods in education. Oxon, UK: Routledge.
Creswell, J. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Crick, B. (2000). In defense of politics (5th ed.). London, UK: Continuum.
Dahl, R. (1998). On democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Davies, I. (2015). Defining citizenship education. In L. Gearon (Ed.), Learning to teach citizenship in the secondary school: A companion to school experience (pp. 18-29). London, UK: Routledge.
Dewey, J. (1927). The public and its problems. London, UK: George Allen & Unwin.
Eurydice (2017). Citizenship Education at School in Europe – 2017. Retrieved from https://publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/6b50c5b0-d651-11e7-a506-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-56573425
Fieldhouse, E., Tranmer, M., & Russell, A. (2007). Something about young people or something about elections? Electoral participation of young people in Europe: Evidence from a multilevel analysis of the European Social Survey. European Journal of Political Research, 46(6), 797-822. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6765.2007.00713.x
Flanagan, C. (2013). Teenage citizens: The political theories of the young. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674067233
Greene, J. C. (2007). Mixed methods in social inquiry (1st ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Habermas, J. (1995). Tre normative demokratimodeller [Three normative models of democracy]. In E. O. Eriksen (Ed.), Deliberativ politikk: demokrati i teori og praksis [Deliberative politics: Democracy in theory and practice] (pp. 30-45). Oslo, Norway: TANO.
Habermas, J. (1999). Kraften i de bedre argumenter [The force of the better arguments]. Oslo, Norway: Ad Notam Gyldendal.
Harris, A., & Wyn, J. (2009). Young people’s politics and the micro-territories of the local. Australian Journal of Political Science, 44(2), 327-344. https://doi.org/10.1080/10361140902865308
Held, D. (Ed.) (1991). Political theory today. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Heller, A. (1991). The concept of the political revisited. In D. Held (Ed.), Political theory today (pp. 330-343). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Hoskins, B., Janmaat, J. G., & Villalba, E. (2012). Learning citizenship through social participation outside and inside school: An international, multilevel study of young people’s learning of citizenship. British Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 419-446. https://doi.org/10.1080/01411926.2010.550271
Huang, L., Ødegård, G., Hegna, K., Svagård, V., Helland, T., & Seland, I. (2017). Unge medborgere. Demokratiforståelse, kunnskap og engasjement blant 9.-klassinger i Norge [Young citizens. Understanding of democracy, knowledge and engagement among 9th graders in Norway]. The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2016. NOVA Report 15/2017. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/Nora%20Elise/Downloads/NOVA-Rapport-15-2017-ICCS-nettversjon-6-november%20(3).pdf
Johnson, R. B., & Christensen, L. (2017). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Kahne, J. E., & Sporte, S. E. (2008). Developing citizens: The impact of civic learning opportunities on students’ commitment to civic participation. American Educational Research Journal, 45(3), 738-766. https://doi.org/10.3102/0002831208316951
Keating, A., & Janmaat, J. G. (2015). Education through citizenship at school: Do school activities have a lasting impact on youth political engagement? Parliamentary Affairs, 69(2), 409-429. https://doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsv017
Leftwich, A. (2004). Thinking politically: On the politics of politics. In A. Leftwich (Ed.), What is politics? The activity and its study (pp. 1-22). Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Lin, A. (2015). Citizenship education in American schools and its role in developing civic engagement: A review of the research. Educational Review, 67(1), 35-63. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2013.813440
Manning, N. (2010). Tensions in young people’s conceptualisation and practice of politics. Sociological Research Online, 15(4), 1-10. https://doi.org/10.5153/sro.2256
Mouffe, C. (1993). The return of the political. London, UK: Verso.
Mouffe, C. (2005). On the political. London, UK: Routledge.
Olson, M. (2009). Democratic citizenship–A conditioned apprenticeship. A call for destabilisation of democracy in education. JSSE-Journal of Social Science Education, 8(4), 75-80. https://doi.org/10.4119/jsse-407
O’Toole, T. (2003). Engaging with young people’s conceptions of the political. Children’s Geographies, 1(1), 71-90. https://doi.org/10.1080/14733280302179
Pateman, C. (1970). Participation and democratic theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511720444
Pontes, A. I., Henn, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2017). Youth political (dis)engagement and the need for citizenship education: Encouraging young people’s civic and political participation through the curriculum. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 14(1), 3-21. https://doi.org/10.1177/1746197917734542
Quintelier, E. (2015). Engaging adolescents in politics: The longitudinal effect of political socialization agents. Youth & Society, 47(1), 51–69. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X13507295
Reichert, F. & Print, M. (2017). Civic participation of high school students: The effect of civic learning in school. Educational Review, 70(3), 318-341. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2017.1316239
Sandahl, J. (2015). Preparing for citizenship: The value of second order thinking concepts in social science education. Journal of Social Science Education, 14(1), 19–30. https://doi.org/10.4119/jsse-732
Schmitt, C. (1996). The concept of the political. Chicago, IL, University of Chicago Press.
Schumpeter, J. (1994). Capitalism, socialism and democracy. London, UK: Routledge.
Sloam, J. (2007). Rebooting democracy: Youth participation in politics in the UK. Parliamentary Affairs, 60(4), 548–567. https://doi.org/10.1093/pa/gsm035
Sohl, S., & Arensmeier, C. (2015). The school’s role in youths’ political efficacy: Can school provide a compensatory boost to students’ political efficacy? Research Papers in Education, 30(2), 133–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/02671522.2014.908408
Solhaug, T. (2013). Trends and dilemmas in citizenship education. Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, 1, 180-200.
Solhaug, T. (2018). Democratic schools – Analytical perspectives. Journal of Social Science Education, 17(1), 1-12. https://doi.org/10.4119/jsse-858
White, C., Bruce, S., & Ritchie, J. (2000). Young people’s politics: Political interest and engagement amongst 14-24 year olds. York, UK: York Publishing Services.
Tonge, J., Mycock, A., & Jeffery, B. (2012). Does citizenship education make young people better-engaged citizens? Political Studies, 60(3), 578-602. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2011.00931.x
Vaughn, S., Schumm, J. S., & Sinagub, J. M. (1996). Focus group interviews in education and psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452243641
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2019 Nora Elise Hesby Mathé
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Declaration on copyright
- The author/s will keep their copyright and right of reproduction of their own manuscript, with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License, but give the journal a permanent right to 1) present the manuscript to the public in the original form in which it was digitally published and 2) to be registered and cited as the first publication of the manuscript.
- The author itself must manage its financial reproduction rights in relation to any third-parties.
- The journal does not provide any financial or other remuneration for contributions submitted.
- Readers of the journal may print the manuscripts presented under the same conditions that apply to reproduction of a physical copy. This means that mass reproduction of physical copies or production of copies for commercial purposes is not permitted without the agreement of the author/s.