London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Different discourses of citizenship – teachers and trainers in several European countries

Author(s) Marcel Meciar  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2005  
Editor A. Ross, Teaching Citizenship  
Language English  
Age group -  
The importance of teaching active citizenship mounts with the increasing level of diversity in multicultural societies, because such education can act to solder or tie together existing citizens and newcomers. In the European context, the significance of a sense of citizenship has also grown with the enlargement of the European Union in May 2004. This paper considers teachers and trainers professionally working in societies with groups of different cultural backgrounds. What do they think about citizenship and how do they perceive it? This was the main research question in a qualitative inquiry conducted within the framework of an international project on Trainers of European Citizens. The research findings show the reasoning teachers and trainers gave to questions of citizenship, common European identity and the integration of immigrants. Partners in the project came from eight European countries, making it possible to compare the different discourses of citizenship (imagined and constructed) by teachers from various countries. European citizenship is conceived as a very important concept: nevertheless it is not built without difficulties. Contemporary social science debates on citizenship cannot be viewed without reference to questions of culture and identity (Hall, 1992; Stevenson, 2001). George Schöpflin (2004) points to fifty years of public discourse on the inseparability of the institutions (or forms of agency) of culture and politics despite this, he argues that one of the greatest successes of Europe as a culture is the ability to combine an extreme level of cultural diversity with similarly diversified forms of political power. There is no other part of the world that consists of so many cultural communities that are autonomous political communities. The question remains as to where the line should be between these two types of communities. The interconnectedness of citizenship (in the sense of political belonging) and culture (in the sense of belonging to a cultural group) is a significant part of the analysis presented here.

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