London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Understanding children’s citizenship, participation and agency in the primary school: An English ethnographic study

Author(s) Bosse Chitty, R.  
Publisher London: CiCe  
Year 2012  
Editor P. Cunningham & N. Fretwell (eds.) Creating Communities: Local, National and Global  
Age group -  
This paper presents the progress and analysis to date of doctoral research into primary school pupils’ experiences and perceptions of political agency, autonomy, and the development of associated rights, responsibilities and political competencies. The selected site for this ethnographic work was the largest primary-age school in its region within England. To access, understand and explain participants’ perceptions of their own autonomy and agency and the structures within which they operate, the methods used were qualitative: interviews, observations, analytical discussions and ethnographic field notes. Data analysis to date demonstrates how being a pupil, political participant and child in this primary school can mean many different things, yet all curricular and cultural expectations apply to the same individuals. The inconsistencies within their learning both challenge and confuse the children. In addition to this, relevant knowledge and understanding appears not to be gained through the received citizenship curriculum, but a more subtle and nuanced experience of political practices within the school community, largely outside teaching time. The question guiding the on-going analysis is: How does the experience of developing political competence in school challenge or reaffirm established positions in wider societal democratic arenas? Keywords: children, citizenship competence, primary school

Back to search results


   Page last updated 09 March 2011