Логотип CGES

Citizenship Conceptions in Contemporary Europe

The research activity within the cluster on Democracy, Citizenship and Governance Research was in 2008 mainly focused on the research project “Citizenship Conceptions in Contemporary Europe”. The main goal was to concentrate on citizenship education in post-socialist and post-authoritarian countries, as well as on the impact of Europeanization on the citizenship education and emerging pictures of the citizens. The central role in this studies were given to the term, practices and policies (of supporting) the students’ participation, and different views of the participation in Europe. The research concentrated especially on the clash of the “citizenship” and “participation” conceptions, developed on the European level with those relevant on the national level.

The research was developed around the existing networks of scientists (sociologists, social anthropologists, political and educational scientists and linguists) from Germany, Russia, Spain, Portugal, Estonia and Bulgaria. The main idea was to adapt research on participation issues within citizenship education to the common scheme of research which was expected to bring about mutually relevant results.

Main activities and results

The German Federal Agency for Civic Education organised in November 2008 in Sofia a conference on “Citizenship Education Facing Nationalism and Populism in Europe”. This big public event was visited by some of the cooperation partners, the CGES already worked with within the framework of the research line “Citizenship Conceptions in Contemporary Europe”, and consequently within the research cluster Democracy, Citizenship and Governance.

Prof. Dr. Hedtke and Dr. Tatjana Zimenkova together with their cooperation partners from the research line “Citizenship Conceptions in Contemporary Europe” organised a small international research workshop which was scheduled subsequently to the Sofia conference. The goal of the workshop was to integrate the results of the conference into the own research and to develop a common research frame. This research workshop was carried out at the St. Kliment-Ohridski--University of Sofia with the friendly support of the Centre for German and European Studies in Sofia (ZEDES) which provided organisational and partial financial support as well as contacts to the specialist Bulgarian scholars, Prof. Dr. Damyanova and Ms. A. Vassileva.

Scientists from Bulgaria, Germany, Russia and Spain (educational scientists, sociologists and linguists) took part in the meeting. They discussed their current work on the citizenship education in order to find a common denominator in their research, and to unite their efforts within the common comparative design (see CGES workshop on the Methodology of Comparison). The challenge of such a work without a given common financing is to operationalise the cases selected for research in a way that would make comparative study reasonable.

The discussion of the common research interests and work done so far brought about the idea of common research design. The new common project on the comparison of policies and practices of participation within Europe with special focus on Germany and Russia as a comparative case will start its work in winter 2009. This research should intensify the existing network, and serve as a possible basis for the cooperative project financing in the future. The form of the research to be done by all participants includes comparative ethnographic studies (description of the “participation” theories and practices in the citizenship education textbooks, in schools and lessons) with some strong aspects on linguistics. Two comparative studies were elaborated: Comparative ethnographic study “Participation as conception of Citizenship Education: European and National Contests” and “Comparative textbook analysis: “European context of the citizenship and participation construction and teaching”.

Comparative ethnographic study “Participation as conception of Citizenship Education: European and National Contests”

The research will include one-case analysis of a school in each country with methods of ethnographic research and video ethnography/sociology. The goal of the ethnographic description (comparative element of the results) would be to describe the participation in textbooks, schools and lessons. The overall aim of the ethnographic study is to define the ideas, conceptions and realisation of participation in citizenship education (e.g. dialogue in the classroom, usage and impact of textbooks on participatory education, including real life situations). This comparative European study aims at integrating supplementary analysis from other disciplines (e. g. images of participation in the canonical readings in literature education).

Organisation of the research: Each country does its own comprehensive ethnographic study; participants from other countries conduct an observation of selected lessons. The aim of these “visited lessons” is to develop the foreign perspective on the school praxis (thus fulfilling the programme of ethnographic studies) and to maintain the interconnection and compatibility of the projects. During the visited lessons an exemplary analysis of the participation issue will be made possible. In order to strengthen the compatibility, same topics will be selected for the “visited lessons” across the network. Suggested topics are Human Rights, citizenship rights and duties, service learning, problem of equality. Case definition: Industrial suburb school.

Comparative textbook analysis: “European context of the citizenship and participation construction and teaching”

The ethnography and comparative elements of the study should be supported by mutual analysis of the textbooks, used in citizenship education. Selected chapters of the textbooks (preferably used in the case-school) will be translated into English and analysed using the foreign perspective of scholars from the other network teams/countries.

Procedure of the mutual textbook analysis: First step: Exchange of tables of content of 3-4 most popular textbooks (14 year-old students) as far as the topic of Human Right Education is touched) within the group of scholars. Similar or intersecting chapters will be selected for translation into English for making mutual analysis possible.

The main ideas and results of common research design building are integrated into the CGES workshops and master classes on the methodology of European comparison.