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.
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