London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Essentially contested…Representations of social reality in textbooks: The case of the ‘Education for Democratic Citizenship

Author(s) Ververi, O.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
This paper examines the Council of Europe’s (CoE’s) discourse on citizenship as it appears in two citizenship education textbooks of the programme ‘Education for Democratic Citizenship’ (EDC). Focus is placed upon the representations of social reality within the textbooks and their relation to the suggested conception of citizenship enclosed in them. I apply Critical Discourse Analysis on the key themes that support the ‘new’ citizenship conception and also proceed to an intradisciplinary discussion. The findings of my analysis are that the two textbooks exhibit a distorted representation of social reality which seems to stem from a ‘Neocommunitarian’ conception of citizenship. In addition, there is a profound tendency for moral relativism and acceptance of either poverty or war as natural phenomena. The paper concludes that although the ‘EDC’ programme is a positive endeavour, the content of its textbooks is an issue that should concern the CoE. In addition to this, it seems that European citizenship identity should not be constructed upon objectively false representations of social reality nor should it be oriented to moral relativism. For this reason, ‘Neocommunitarianism’ does not seem to be a recommendable citizenship conception and we should instead seek for a different form of communitarianism upon which we could build the European citizenship identity. Keywords: Citizenship education textbooks, European citizenship identity, Education for Democratic Citizenship, Neocommunitarianism

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