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The Civic Empowerment Gap: Defining the Problem and Locating Solutions

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Citizenship and the Civic Empowerment Gap De Facto Segregated Minority Schools What We Can Do

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... While research shows students are more civically engaged if they discuss current events in school, contribute to extracurricular activities, engage in service learning, and participate in the school governance, these opportunities are unequally distributed (Kahne & Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010). Affluent, white students benefit from more civic opportunities and show stronger outcomes 2 with civic knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes than low-income and minority youth (Gould et al., 2011;Kahne & Middaugh, 2008). ...
... Affluent, white students benefit from more civic opportunities and show stronger outcomes 2 with civic knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes than low-income and minority youth (Gould et al., 2011;Kahne & Middaugh, 2008). This civic engagement gap creates antidemocratic effects across community participation and learning gaps that are as large, and as destructive, as the persistent academic achievement gaps (Gould et al., 2011;Levine, 2009;Levinson, 2010). The civic engagement gap harms the quality and integrity of our democracy (Levinson, 2010). ...
... This civic engagement gap creates antidemocratic effects across community participation and learning gaps that are as large, and as destructive, as the persistent academic achievement gaps (Gould et al., 2011;Levine, 2009;Levinson, 2010). The civic engagement gap harms the quality and integrity of our democracy (Levinson, 2010). ...
... As a researcher, I worked within the problem space of attempting to address two national issues: the civic empowerment gap and the increasingly polarized U.S. society. The civic empowerment gap has been identified and defined as the gap that exists between the civic and political knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors of low-income non-white individuals and middle-class and wealthy white individuals (Levinson, 2010(Levinson, , 2013Swalwell, 2015). The increasing polarization of U.S. society has been identified by researchers as they have witnessed increasingly more disparate views on social and public issues and individuals increasingly having fewer interactions with those who hold different opinions or values (Pew Research Center, 2016a, 2016b. ...
... Specifically, studies have found that these individuals are less committed to voting, feel less efficacious, and are less politically active than higher SES individuals (Hill, Leighley, & Hinton-Andersson, 1995;Zukin, Keeter, Andolina, Jenkins, & Carpini, 2006;Dalton, 2008). This phenomenon has been labeled a "civic empowerment gap:" a difference that exists between the civic proficiencies of different socioeconomic groups (Kahne & Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010;Levinson, 2013;Swalwell, 2015;Youniss & Levine, 2009). This gap, coupled with the increasing polarization of US society's political views, may put individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds more at risk than ever before to have their voices go unnoticed, which is an issue of equity in terms of representation that challenges our democracy (Levinson, 2010;Levinson, 2012). ...
... This phenomenon has been labeled a "civic empowerment gap:" a difference that exists between the civic proficiencies of different socioeconomic groups (Kahne & Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010;Levinson, 2013;Swalwell, 2015;Youniss & Levine, 2009). This gap, coupled with the increasing polarization of US society's political views, may put individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds more at risk than ever before to have their voices go unnoticed, which is an issue of equity in terms of representation that challenges our democracy (Levinson, 2010;Levinson, 2012). ...
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There is an increasing need to engage students with civic topics and concepts in public schools. Researchers have identified the importance of civics, and the benefits of providing opportunities to engage with public issues in schools. This work studies civic perspective-taking, a process wherein students examine multiple perspectives on public issues and form their own stances on these issues using fact-based reasons with a consideration for the public good. To study this concept, I collected data during the 2016-2017 school year at a low-income, majority Latinx school in the Southwest. The research for this dissertation is organized into two papers that are presented here. Each paper represents an important idea in teaching civic perspective-taking in elementary schools: (a) the knowledge teachers use to teach civic perspective-taking and (b) how students understand civic perspective-taking and related concepts. The first study examines teacher knowledge by identifying the specific types of knowledge needed to teach civics, particularly civic perspective-taking in an elementary school. To do so, the adaptations three second-grade teachers made to a curricular intervention are analyzed through observations of teachers’ enactments of each lesson. Findings indicate that teachers used specific types of knowledge to teach civic perspective-taking, namely knowledge of locally-relevant issues, knowledge of students’ home lives and cultures, and knowledge of the community and its features. Implications for future research related to teacher knowledge used to teach civics are discussed. The second study examines student learning related to civic perspective-taking with second-grade students in three majority-Latinx classrooms as they participated in this civics unit. Specifically, student learning related to key concepts within the unit is examined through analyses of students’ individual work samples and field notes from small group work and discussions. Based on these data, levels of learning civic perspective-taking and related concepts are presented. Patterns of student understanding are examined through three student exemplars, each of which demonstrated different levels of understanding of concepts (advanced, developed, and limited levels of understanding) throughout the unit. Implications for future research related to civic perspective-taking and student learning are discussed.
... Therefore, the guiding principles of informal environmental learning should be incorporated within formalized school curricula. Levinson's [30] advocacy on bridging the civic-empowerment gap in the education sector is a case in point of the above recommendation. Levinson quotes the Civic Mission of Schools, which states that civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives [30,31]. ...
... Levinson's [30] advocacy on bridging the civic-empowerment gap in the education sector is a case in point of the above recommendation. Levinson quotes the Civic Mission of Schools, which states that civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives [30,31]. ...
Article
Akey determinant and outcome of successful environmental education is ‘pro-environmental behavior’, i.e., behavior that involves conscious action to mitigate adverse environmental impacts at personal or community level, e.g., reducing resource consumption and waste generation, avoiding toxic substances, and organizing community awareness initiatives. However, some theorists have sought to move away from rationalist models of behavioral modification, towards holistic pedagogical initiatives that seek to develop action competence. In light of the global push towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emerging evidence suggests that education initiatives should foster action competence so studentsmay be equipped to contribute to sustainable development as part of their education. The UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Roadmap 2030 has also identified key priority areas to strengthen ESD in formal curricula. This article reports two informal environmental education initiatives for promoting action competence and pro-environmental behaviors in school-aged children. The authors recommend that formal education settings (e.g., schools) should incorporate self-directed, free-choice project-based learning to augment environmental education programs and promote students’ action competence for contribution to attainment of SDGs. To this end, we propose a Free-Choice Project-based Learning for Action Competence in Sustainable Development (ACiSD) Curriculum, comprising six implementation dimensions, namely: (1) project duration and teaming arrangements, (2) topic selection, (3) student support, (4) teacher support, (5) learning environments, and (6) digital access and equity. For each implementation dimension, we recommend action steps to help educators implement this curriculumin their own educational settings, with the aid of an illustrative worked example.
... Therefore, the guiding principles of informal environmental learning should be incorporated within formalized school curricula. Levinson's [30] advocacy on bridging the civic-empowerment gap in the education sector is a case in point of the above recommendation. Levinson quotes the Civic Mission of Schools, which states that civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives [30,31]. ...
... Levinson's [30] advocacy on bridging the civic-empowerment gap in the education sector is a case in point of the above recommendation. Levinson quotes the Civic Mission of Schools, which states that civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives [30,31]. ...
Article
Full-text available
A key determinant and outcome of successful environmental education is ‘pro-environmental behavior’, i.e., behavior that involves conscious action to mitigate adverse environmental impacts at personal or community level, e.g., reducing resource consumption and waste generation, avoiding toxic substances, and organizing community awareness initiatives. However, some theorists have sought to move away from rationalist models of behavioral modification, towards holistic pedagogical initiatives that seek to develop action competence. In light of the global push towards achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emerging evidence suggests that education initiatives should foster action competence so students may be equipped to contribute to sustainable development as part of their education. The UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Roadmap 2030 has also identified key priority areas to strengthen ESD in formal curricula. This article reports two informal environmental education initiatives for promoting action competence and pro-environmental behaviors in school-aged children. The authors recommend that formal education settings (e.g., schools) should incorporate self-directed, free-choice project-based learning to augment environmental education programs and promote students’ action competence for contribution to attainment of SDGs. To this end, we propose a Free-Choice Project-based Learning for Action Competence in Sustainable Development (ACiSD) Curriculum, comprising six implementation dimensions, namely: (1) project duration and teaming arrangements, (2) topic selection, (3) student support, (4) teacher support, (5) learning environments, and (6) digital access and equity. For each implementation dimension, we recommend action steps to help educators implement this curriculum in their own educational settings, with the aid of an illustrative worked example.
... Estos colegios representan distintas realidades socioeconómicas, sectores geográficos de la ciudad, proyectos educativos y misiones, permitiendo comparar la variedad de énfasis de formación ciudadana que pueden encontrarse en los colegios chilenos, y explorar la brecha de involucramiento cívico documentada nacional e internacionalmente (Levinson, 2010;Westheimer, 2015), en términos de las oportunidades disponibles para la participación, el desarrollo del pensamiento crítico, cómo los estudiantes se perciben en tanto ciudadanos, y cómo perciben que pueden participar en la sociedad y cambiarla. ...
... Cuando analizamos esta baja en participación o involucramiento cívico, no debemos olvidar, como plantea Levinson (2010), que «el conocimiento político y cívico relevante han sido abrumadoramente definidos por académicos, educadores y políticos blancos, de clase alta, que se preocupan de la política formal y electoral» (p. 336). ...
Book
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«Pedagogía de la exclusión en Chile. Perspectivas críticas hacia el 2030», editado por el doctor y profesor Pablo Castillo-Armijo, reúne una serie de artículos que buscan develar las incongruencias entre la teoría y la práctica pedagógica, junto con visibilizar voces de sectores históricamente excluidos de las esferas de poder. Para ello, la obra se estructura en tres partes: la primera, titulada «Identidad de género y feminismo en la educación», desarrolla ideas sobre redefinir políticas a favor de la mujer, discutiéndose el concepto de identidad de género y la falta de oportunidades dada la naturalización de conductas patriarcales en la sociedad; la segunda, «El lento camino hacia la inclusión educativa y social», aborda las necesidades educativas especiales, la marginación de nuestros pueblos originarios y el problema del analfabetismo; y la tercera, denominada «Desigualdad e inequidad en el sistema educativo nacional», analiza el concepto de calidad educativa, el mercado en la educación superior, los inmigrantes y su derecho a la educación, la desigualdad territorial para educar en zonas rurales y extremas, y la denuncia a la gestión educativa que frena a las escuelas. Todo ello, presentado por más de cuarenta autoras/es, quienes contextualizan y desmenuzan esta «pedagogía de la exclusión» que hoy, y desde hace décadas, sigue presente en Chile.
... Schools serving privileged student populations are more likely to offer interactive civic education that is conducive to imparting civic skills and disposition (Levine, 2009). These educational disparities contribute to a civic opportunity gap that disproportionately suppresses the civic agency of poor, non-White citizens while augmenting the influence of wealthy, White, native-born individuals (Levinson, 2010). Studies have shown that students from poor economic backgrounds, including students from impoverished rural and urban areas, and students of color who receive high quality civic education have the same or greater civic gains than their more advantaged counterparts (Kahne and Middaugh, 2008;Owen, Hartzell, and Sanchez, 2020;Winthrop, 2020;Hoskins, Huang, and Arensmeier, 2021;Weinberg, 2022). ...
... However, the inequities in civic knowledge across racial and class divides has grown (Hansen, et al., 2018;Mahnken, 2018). Poor and minority students are educated under conditions of de facto segregation, as they are concentrated in underfunded schools located in central cities and rural areas (Levinson, 2010;United Negro College Fund, 2022). The situation is especially dire for the approximately 60% of young Americans who reside in "civic deserts"-places where opportunities for civic engagement are limited and effective civics and history education is lacking (Atwell, Bridgeland, and Levine, 2017). ...
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Civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions are necessary for responsible, productive, and engaged citizenship. Students from less privileged circumstances often attend poorly resourced schools and receive limited or substandard civics training that is especially devoid of attention to skills and dispositions. They also lack access to curricular interventions that take an active learning approach that is relevant to their needs and personal experience. We examine the effectiveness of two programs of the Center for Civic Education—the Congressional Academy for American History and Civics and Project Citizen. The programs take different approaches to active learning that facilitates students’ development of civic skills and dispositions. We find that both programs impart civic orientations to high-need students more effectively than traditional civics classes. Differences in civic learning based on SES, race, and gender were evident which points to the importance of designing civics curricula that meet the needs of diverse student populations.
... By bringing to light "funds of knowledge" (Moll et al., 1992) that students possess, though commonly left untapped by schools, yPAR can foster skills necessary to shape life trajectories (Irizarry, 2009), including civic development (Fox et al., 2010). Historically, the extant civic engagement literature suggests that people of color and/ or low socioeconomic status have lower rates of civic engagement than their more privileged counterparts (Levinson, 2010). For example, traditional measures of civic engagement include behaviors such as voting or donations to charity (Westheimer & Kahne, 2004). ...
... For example, traditional measures of civic engagement include behaviors such as voting or donations to charity (Westheimer & Kahne, 2004). Yet, these measures have been critiqued for privileging forms of civic engagement that are more characteristic of White and/or higher socioeconomic status (SES) populations (Levinson, 2010). Recent conceptual shifts in what constitutes civic engagement reveals that rates of participation among less privileged populations are robust and stronger in some areas (e.g., social protest) than historically privileged groups (Watts & Flanagan, 2007). ...
Article
Objectives: In recent years, increased anti-immigrant hostility has trickled into school settings creating toxic climates for immigrant-origin (I-O) students (Rogers, School and society in the age of trump, 2019, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access). Through youth participatory action research (yPAR), this study qualitatively examined how a class of Emerging Bilingual (EB) students aimed to promote more inclusive learning environments by designing, implementing, and evaluating a school-wide program. Here, we consider how the students experienced growth in their civic development as well as how they contended with resistances encountered during the project. Methods: The current study took place at a majority I-O, northeastern high school and was led by an EB class (n = 20) and its teacher. Participants were as follows: on average 16.5 years; 60% female; and 65% Latinx, 30% Black, and 5% mixed-race (Black-Latino). Multiple data sources documenting the students' experiences were collected (including weekly student reflections and ethnographic field notes) and then thematically analyzed using open coding. Results: Participating students demonstrated civic development as evidenced through: growing confidence that the program could generate positive change; enhanced sense of connection toward their classmates; and increased commitment to future civic engagement. Nonetheless, some participants demonstrated initial trepidation in both disclosing their migration stories as well as the potential efficacy of engaging in the project. Furthermore, others were disappointed by the disinterest displayed by some of their peers and teachers. Conclusions: Collaborative research can support I-O youths' civic development, though, the resistances encountered and engendered illuminate possible challenges to ensure its benefits. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
... This contribution would like to focus on the consequences of this tension for civic education efforts in schools. Recent studies have shown that some youngsters benefit more from civic activities than others (Levinson 2010). According to Brady, Schlozman and Verba (2015), this 'civic gap' tends be intergenerational. ...
... active and passive citizenship) are the result of unequal contexts. This has been referred as the civic empowerment gap (Levinson 2010). ...
... There is a renewed interest in civic education and it is considered as an increasingly important matter in societies striving to (re)establish democratic governments, but also in societies with continuous democratic traditions (De Winter, Schillemans & Janssens, 2006). Civic education is thought to be an essential and effective way to promote the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are necessary for responsible democratic citizens, to encourage political participation and to foster social cohesion (Levinson, 2010). Today, civic education is found in various areas of society: as a learning path in secondary education, in citizenship courses and in a variety of other initiatives. ...
Article
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Youth work is often regarded as a fruitful place for the creation of democratic citizens and is thus a favoured space for civic educational activities. Despite these efforts, there is a growing concern on the civic empowerment gap: the difference that can still be found across various domains of civic outcomes between disadvantaged groups and those from dominant and socio-economically advantaged backgrounds. From a democratic point of view, the civic empowerment gap is deeply problematic. Various efforts exist to include excluded or so-called ‘nonparticipating’ youngsters, albeit often with a socialization or disciplinarian discourse. The presented study challenges such approach and builds on the concept of political subjectification to offer an alternative approach to remedy the civic empowerment gap? To do so, a case study has been conducted with a youth social organization in Molenbeek, Brussels. The findings emphasize the importance of the explicit and implicit role of advocacy by the organization and the importance of the fragile pedagogical and political relationship between youth workers and youngsters to enable meaningful participation.
... A common thread across our calls to action is the importance of youth engagement in these improvements. Youth want opportunities for engagement; however, there is a gap in what we can do, what resources we have access to, and what we want to do-this is called a civic empowerment gap (Levinson, 2010). To reduce this gap, the power and resources of adults must be leveraged using youth-adult partnerships. ...
Article
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Over the last decade, youth have been acknowledged as agents of change in the fight against climate change, and more recently in disaster risk reduction. However, there is a need for improved opportunities for youth to participate and have their voices heard in both contexts. Our Photovoice study explores youth perceptions of the capability of youth to participate in disaster risk reduction and climate change action. We conducted six focus groups from February 2019 to June 2019 with four teenaged youth participants in Ottawa, Canada, hosting two virtual Photovoice exhibitions in 2021. Our results highlight 11 themes across a variety of topics including youth as assets, youth-adult partnerships, political action on consumerism, social media, education, accessibility, and art as knowledge translation. We provide four calls to action, centering youth participation and leadership across all of them, to guide stakeholders in how to improve disaster risk reduction and climate change initiatives by meaningfully including youth as stakeholders.
... Unfortunately, opportunities to develop civic efficacy are not only limited but inequitably distributed. In a national survey, less than one-third of youth (29%) reported that they often used their learning for real-world problem solving in the past year (Levy & Sidhu, 2013), and persistent and increasing racial and socioeconomic disparities in civic engagement speak to widespread and systemic opportunity gaps (Levinson, 2010;Schlozman et al., 2013;Wray-Lake & Hart, 2012). Economically marginalized youth of color are less likely to have access to the civics learning that would begin to address the structural inequities they face (Gould et al., 2011). ...
Article
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This study examined the effects of behavioral and social engagement and classroom supportiveness on the development of civic efficacy in fourth-grade science classrooms. We define civic efficacy as children's beliefs that they are not only capable of making a difference in their community, but they also feel a responsibility to do so. This study enrolled 815 students (48% female) across 39 classrooms, including 31 fourth-grade teachers at 25 schools in a large urban school district in the South Central U.S. Stepwise regression showed that behavioral engagement, social engagement, and classroom supportiveness in science class all positively predicted civic efficacy, and social engagement accounted for the greatest amount of variance in that civic efficacy. Findings suggests that social engagement is a stronger driver of civic efficacy than behavioral engagement and classroom supportiveness, pointing to the importance of collaboration and teamwork in science classrooms. We discuss implications for elementary classroom practices.
... As an example, one powerful opportunity for enacting maturity during adolescence is through civic engagement, or joining with others to address issues of collective concern in communities. Young people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and racial/ethnic minority backgrounds are offered fewer and lower-quality civic opportunities (Kahne and Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010;Gaby, 2017). As one young person from a civically underserved community put it, "We all have ideas how things could be better in our schools. ...
Article
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Conceptions of adolescent “storm and stress” may be tied to a developmental mismatch that exists between young people’s need for meaningful roles and autonomy – which we refer to as a need for enacting maturity – and the lack of such opportunities in most adolescents’ contexts. First, we summarize our previous work on enacting maturity, including a review of the key components, links to wellbeing, and the nuances and limitations of this construct. Next, we extend this work by considering how the ecological contexts (e.g., family, school, community) young people are embedded in and their various intersecting social positions and identities (e.g., race/ethnicity, gender, immigrant origin) influence their experiences with enacting maturity. In this section, we pose several key questions for developmental scientists around: (a) identifying a young person’s desire for, and phenomenological processing of, their adult-like roles, (b) understanding how complex and unequal responses to physical maturation shape opportunities for enacting maturity, and (c) attending to disparities in curricular and extracurricular pathways to leadership, responsibility, and autonomy. Finally, we discuss spaces with high potential to support enacting maturity, including both specially designed programs (e.g., youth participatory action research, leadership programs) as well as routine, everyday opportunities (e.g., interactions with teachers, training for companies that employ youth). We offer two levers for supporting enacting maturity across both types of spaces: adult allies and responsive organizations. Looking to exemplary programs, innovative leaders, social media, and case studies, we re-imagine how adults and organizations can promote young people enacting maturing in ways that are safe, worthwhile, and equitable.
... Decentralization, according to a number of authors, implies the broad involvement of stakeholders in the decision-making process, which is extremely important and very difficult (Litvack & Seddon, 1999) (Levinson, 2010) (Rebell, 2018) (Mihaylov, 2012). Several theories and models have been found in the scientific literature examining the relationship between power and society. ...
Article
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Integrated territorial investments are a fundamentally new approach to the implementation of regional policy. The approach requires decentralization of the decision-making process and active participation of citizens in this process. The bottom-up approach involves identifying the needs of the community and looking for alternatives to meet those needs. The choice of the best alternative, ie. the choice of a specific measure or project implies the application of adequate working mechanisms to ensure the involvement of the general public. There are various theories about how to encourage and motivate citizens to participate in public decisions that have a direct impact on them and their way of life. Different strategies and approaches are applied, their effectiveness is different, and it is difficult to find a universal solution. The aim of this article is to bring out the main theoretical and conceptual issues related to the role, importance, tools for civic participation in public policy-making processes in general and in relation to regional policy in particular. On this basis, an iterative model for applying the bottom-up approach to inclusion in integrated planning will be proposed. Content analysis of documents and empirical research will outline the main steps that would be useful in the process of decentralization and promoting participation. Based on the deduction and induction, the main barriers and limiting factors will be identified, which so far hinder the more active participation of civil society, business and other organizations in the process of making decisions for regional development. The aim is to outline the main groups of constraints and to suggest possible reactions to them. The framework for decentralization of the process of regional development and stakeholder involvement will be outlined, as well as good practices, existing hypotheses about the commitment of public institutions to ensure inclusion, opportunities to build an environment that ensures a high degree of integration of public policies.
... However, opportunities for the dreams and possibilities of civic engagement have not been provided to all our nation's youth. Levinson (2010) describes this disparity between non-White and poor youth and White, wealthier youth as a "civic empowerment gap" (p. 331) that stems from a lack of opportunities to develop the efficacy and commitment required for civic engagement. ...
... Civic education serves three primary purposes: perpetuation of the nation-state, realization of the nation-state's civic ideals such as equality or common national identity, and guidance of citizens with regard to participation in public life (Levinson 2014). 1 This final purpose generally refers to helping young people "acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives" (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning [CIRCLE] 2003, 4). In democracies in particular, this has traditionally included knowledge of government and political processes, foundations of democracy, and individual rights and responsibilities; skills related to information gathering, critical thinking, and engaging in dialogue with those who hold divergent perspectives; behaviors that demonstrate community and political participation; and dispositions such as the preservation of freedom, equality, social responsibility, tolerance, and respect (Educating for American Democracy [EAD] 2021;Gould 2011;Levinson 2010). A citizenry without such knowledge, skills, and dispositions is unlikely to be able to maintain-much less improve-democratic systems for future generations (Gould 2011). ...
... Contemporary research on youth civic identity and beliefs in schools emphasizes substantial disconnects between the opportunities that youth receive based on the sociopolitical contexts of schools (e.g., Kahne & Middaugh, 2008;Rubin, 2007). Such differences often frame Black, Indigenous, and Youth of Color as seeming disillusioned and aloof to civic engagement and learning opportunities (Levinson, 2010;Mitchell et al., 2015).[AQ: 1][ AQ: 2] Recent efforts to instill contextual and responsive approaches to civics recognize civics as "lived" (Cohen et al., 2018), connected to student interests (Clay & Rubin, 2020), and linked to affective and sociopolitical dimensions (Nasir & Kirshner, 2003). ...
Article
This study investigates teacher participation in a national online youth civic letter writing project through the lens of teacher civic commitments. Drawing on in-depth interviews and survey data from teachers who participated in the Letters to the Next President 2.0 project, civic commitments are articulated through civic beliefs, learning goals, instructional enactments, and geopolitical context. With a generic shared belief in “youth voice,” teachers enacted the civic letter writing project through instructional activities that included (a) choice of topic, (b) publication, (c) reading letters from other youth, (d) research, (e) peer dialogue, and (f) connections beyond the Letters project. While beliefs appeared widely shared, divergence in learning goals and enactments led to distinct learning opportunities for students. With minimal research exploring the role of teachers in student civics learning, this study provides new insights to guide teacher preparation and ongoing teacher development in the realm of civics education.
... Als politieke vorming "maakt het burgers klaar om deel te nemen in de bewuste reproductie van hun samenleving" (Gutmann, 1999, 287, alle vertalingen zijn eigen vertalingen). Het is gericht op het doorgeven en aanleren van kennis, vaardigheden en attitudes die cruciaal en noodzakelijk zijn voor verantwoordelijke democratische burgers (Levinson 2010). Burgerschap is met andere woorden iets wat je kan leren. ...
Article
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Since the turn of the century, citizenship and civic education enjoy a renewed attention by scholars, educators and politicians. This attention follows the apparent, worrisome state of democracy, the decline of social cohesion and the rise of populistic figures. Citizenship and civic education have figured as the preferred answer to these societal challenges. They focus on the acquisition of skills and attitudes required to be a full-fledged political member of society and thus on becoming a good citizen. In this paper, the value of these initiatives is recognized, but there is also critique: on the one hand towards an idealized notion of the good citizen, on the other hand towards citizenship as a mere form of political socialization. Using the idea of the political difference (the difference between politics and the political) this article explores how subversive and disruptive forms of citizenship-education can be considered as forms of democratic engagement. We build on the works of Carl Schmitt, Chantal Mouffe, and Jean-Luc Nancy to explore the consequences of the political for citizenship and civic education. This article advocates and underlines the importance of a space where citizens can question the boundaries of the societal order and redefine the political playing field.
... Civic knowledge is a broad construct that comprises both information about how the political system works (e.g., civic societies, civic principles) and the necessary skills for making use of that information (see Schulz et al. 2008;Torney-Purta 2001). For example, it is known that at least some degree of civic knowledge is essential when it comes to participating in the civic arena, and such knowledge is required in order to experience an activecitizenship (Levinson 2010;Owen et al. 2011). Civic knowledge has also been highlighted in relation to the concept of political sophistication, which greatly influences how individuals evaluate political candidates for elective office (DeWitt 2012; Galston 2001Galston , 2004Galston , 2007Gomez and Wilson 2001). ...
Article
The global need to reverse political disaffection has motivated researchers to seek ways of fostering citizenship engagement. This study focuses on the role adolescents' citizenship self-efficacy plays in linking civic knowledge and classroom climate to civic engagement. We use data from 4838 Chilean students (Mage = 14.16) who participated in the ICCS Study. Using structural equation modeling, a mediational model with multilevel clustering showed that civic knowledge positively affects formal participation, but not civil participation, while an open classroom climate relates increases both forms of engagement during adolescence. Citizenship self-efficacy mediates the relation between classroom climate and both types of participation. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design citizenship education curricula for youth who live in contexts of inequality.
... Similarly, studies of citizenship have focused extensively on the general decline of interest in participating in political parties in recent decades (Bennett, 2007) or on steps that may be taken to increase participation in parties through civic education (e.g. Levinson, 2010). ...
Article
This dissertation examines the relationship between grassroots progressive activists and the Democratic Party. Building on Hirschman’s (1970) framework of exit, voice, and loyalty, this dissertation combines literature on political parties, new media and politics, citizenship, and social movements to examine how progressive activists become activated in Democratic Party politics, how they negotiate their relationship with the Party, as well as the strategies and tactics they employ towards their political goals. To that end, I examined three pathways through which activists were attempting to influence the Democratic Party: as delegates to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions, by involving themselves in and engaging in actions via the formal Party structure of the California Democratic Party, and by engaging in activism via local progressive groups. I explore these activist practices through a combination of direct observation, semi-structured interviews, social media analysis, and textual analysis. This dissertation explains how both the personal identity of activists as well as the collective identity of their activist groups influence how they understand the Democratic Party, what they think it can be, and how they conceive of their role in and around it. It also refines and extends Hirschman’s theory to both add the notion of “entry” and to show the hybridity of his concepts of exit, voice, and loyalty. I present numerous examples of activists entering Democratic Party politics in order to exercise their voices. Using the 2016 and 2020 Sanders delegations to the Democratic National Conventions, I argued that a self-reinforcing relationship exists between activists’ personal identities, the level of control exerted by a campaign, and the potential for the development of collective identity. In the context of internal party elections at the state level. I present the ideal opportunities, as well as the limitations of certain strategies and tactics for networked mobilization. In the context of local groups, I introduce two typologies—Party-First and Party-Second groups—for classifying and examining progressive activist groups based on the differences in both how they define progressivism and also the selection of and discourses surrounding the tactics they employ for political action. Beyond these theoretical contributions, this dissertation also provides a comprehensive understanding of what party activism looks like beyond participation in either candidate campaigns or delegations to national party conventions.
... Schools largely prioritize subjects covered on standardized tests; civic learning is too often squeezed out (Godsay et al., 2012). Exacerbating the problem of too few civic opportunities, opportunities that do exist are unequally distributed across schools and neighborhoods, and race and socio-economic status are strongly predictive of civic preparedness and participation (Kahne and Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010). ...
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Problem of formation Ukrainian students` civic consciousness is in the focus of research in philosophical and psychological and pedagogical sciences of Ukraine. United States of America is an example of the formation of civic consciousness in a democratic society. Education of citizenship of students on the basis of respect for the rights of every person, the recognition of the rule of law, conscious voluntary citizens to perform their duties and care for the common good is a key concept in US philosophy of higher education. This concept provides the priority of training students as responsible members of the democratic society to conscious activity for the benefit of the community. It is established that education Citizenship of student youth in the United States has a universal public nature. The state, higher education and social institutions are involved in this process environment (public organizations, mass media, institutions of the sphere culture, etc.). Students of higher educational institutions have been considered a resource for future social development in the United States of America that make a significant contribution to social transformation in society. Formation of students’ civic consciousness upbrings certain personal qualities, skills and attitudes necessary for a citizen of a democratic society.
... Furthermore, "These discussions almost exclusively emphasize civics-related knowledge" (Cohen, 2006, p. 203). Similarly, the emphasis on the role of schools was placed on the transmission of civic knowledge, premised on the idea that knowing about the functioning of the political system is relevant to developing active citizens (Levinson, 2010, Owen et al, 2011, Torney-Purta et al, 2001, Wilkenfield, 2009. The Council of Europe -at the inception of the project on 'Education for Democratic Citizenshipreferred to "Some of the most serious obstacles in the development of learning for democratic citizenship", stating (1) a "lack of trained teachers" for "programmes and activities that relate to the acquisition of new forms of knowledge and new skills necessary for quality teaching and learning for democratic citizenship" (2000, p. 23); and (2) " 'by the book' teaching of democratic citizenship as a separate school subject that aims to develop descriptive knowledge and cognitive skills" (2000, p. 23). ...
Research
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Whereas there has been a comparatively greater emphasis on the ends rather than the means of citizenship education, this study seeks to redress this imbalance by contributing to the idea of how to do and how to cultivate citizenship education in educational settings. Centred on democratic citizenship education (henceforth DCE) in five specific Colombian educational contexts, the study parts from four foundational premises: first, DCE is a complex enterprise which cannot be limited to knowledge acquisition and value formation, but must also integrate the development of both democratic skills and democratic dispositions; second, democracy and democratic citizenship are not so much formally learnt, but actually lived and cultivated in action through daily interactions; third, teachers play a critical role: how they conceive DCE and its related elements can shape democratic pedagogical practices and the construction of democratic classroom climates; fourth, DCE is most effective when learners are guided by teachers whose practices are democratic in themselves on one hand, and when learners are exposed to democratic climates on the other. These four premises point to a conception of democratic citizenship that is practiced rather than given, thereby recognizing the agency of children, not only as future citizens ‘in the making’, but as citizens in their own right. Given the amplitude and complexity of democracy on one hand and recognizing the central role teachers play in the classroom on the other, this case study focuses on the conceptions and practices of five teachers who teach in 5th grade classrooms of four urban schools. Three of these four schools are located in particularly marginalized zones of Cali (Colombia) marked by high levels of community violence and fragile social fabrics. Moreover, all four schools and several of its teachers have been part of a multicomponent citizenship competencies programme called Classrooms in Peace (Aulas en Paz). Though Classrooms in Peace takes account of ‘teacher styles’ as regards their practices, it is a programme that has largely prioritized peaceful relationships (among students) and violence reduction (mainly in the classroom). It was designed from its inception to improve ‘convivencia’, which in Spanish refers to ‘living together’, connoting harmonious living. This study is concerned with strengthening the programme by complementing citizenship development, particularly from the axes of participation and democratic responsibility – this being one of three central components of the Basic Standards of Citizenship Competencies implemented in Colombia since 2003. In this line it focuses on how teachers can cultivate skills and dispositions in their students relating to three specific distinctive features of democratic citizenship: (1) participation, which combines both student voice and student decision-making; (2) equality; and (3) critical thinking. All three are acknowledged in theory and in public policy but comparatively weak in practice in Colombian educational settings as well as at the macro country level. An in-depth understanding of teachers’ conceptions and practices at the classroom level can have two potential benefits for Classrooms in Peace: first, it can substantially improve the teacher training component of the programme; second, taking account of teachers’ voices as regards their conceptions and practices in regard to DCE, is not only more holistic in approach but also more democratic in nature. Beyond the programme, to the degree that educational settings address DCE strategically and capitalize on the opportunities of the present socio-political juncture marked by a post-conflict context, it will contribute to setting the stage for a robust democracy, leaving behind a defective democracy.
... Equal participation in politics for all social groups is an important precondition for effective democratic rule. If some groups are markedly less inclined to vote and are less active in other ways, democratically elected governments will be less responsive to their needs, which will affect the public legitimacy of liberal democracy (Bartels 2008;Levinson 2010). Tracking is often mentioned as a feature of education systems that is counterproductive in mitigating these inequalities (Gamoran and Mare 1989;Janmaat, Mostafa, and Hoskins 2014;van de Werfhorst 2017). ...
Article
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Many scholars argue that the practice of educational tracking exerts a distinct effect on young people’s political engagement. They point out that students in academic tracks are becoming more politically engaged than those than those in vocational ones, and suggest that this may be due to differences across tracks in the curriculum, pedagogy, peer environment or student self-confidence. The current paper aims to investigate whether tracking is related to political engagement through any of these four mechanisms. It uses survey data collected among students in the final year of upper secondary education in France and employs a stepwise multilevel analysis to explore this question. It finds little differences between tracks in the curriculum and in pedagogy relevant for political engagement. Students in academic tracks nonetheless express a stronger commitment to vote than those in vocational ones. This difference between tracks disappears when the social composition of the school population is taken into account, suggesting that the peer environment is the primary mechanism driving the effect of tracking in France. However, in contexts with greater variation between the tracks in curriculum and pedagogy, the latter may well be equally or more important mechanisms.
... Prominent civic education paradigms such as the civic engagement or knowledge "gap" (Gaby, 2017, Kahne & Middaugh, 2008Levinson, 2010;Niemi, 2012), position minoritized 1 youth as lacking the knowledge or skills necessary to be contributing democratic citizens (Cohen & Luttig, 2020) and white youth as the "implicit benchmark for Black kids' civic possibility" (Woodson & Love, 2019, p. 95). Such paradigms are insufficient for advancing social and racial justice as they reflect white norms (Busey & Dowie-Chin, 2021;Vickery, 2016) and exclude and de-value forms of civic engagement that minoritized youth and communities have long employed (Wray-Lake & Abrams, 2020). ...
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This article problematizes traditional and critical conceptions of civic knowledge and centers minoritized youth voices. We utilize case studies from two critical qualitative studies in two urban contexts to suggest that minoritized youths’ subjugated knowledges are a type of civic knowledge and necessary for youth to imagine agentic social futures. These case studies indicated that youths’ community-based curricular experiences illuminated and tapped into their racialized experiences and embodied knowledge of gentrification, immigration, and racism. As youth expressed and built upon this knowledge, they discussed policy solutions to the injustices they identified, developed a deeper sense of belonging and solidarity with people in their communities, and articulated a desire to “become leaders” and agents of civic and social change. We offer implications for research and call for civic education anchored in the insurrection of subjugated knowledges and youths’ race-conscious imaginations of more just and participatory civic and social futures.
... Řada nedávno publikovaných (především) zahraničních výzkumů navíc konstatuje, že klíčovou roli v rozvoji občanských znalostí, dispozicí a kompetencí u mládeže sehrává především prostředí školy a třídy (vedle řady dalších, níže hojně odkazovaných publikací viz např. Verba, Schlozman, Brady, 1995;McAllister, 1998;Niemi, Junn, 1998;Galston, 2001;Torney -Purta, Lehmann, Oswald, Schulz, 2001;Print, Ørnstrøm, Nielsen, 2002;Torney -Purta, 2002;Ichilov, 2003;Galston, 2004;Hillygus, 2005;Campbell, 2006;Solhaug, 2006;Galston, 2007;Pasek, Feldman, Romer, Jamieson, 2008;Schulz et al., 2008;Levinson, 2010;Narvaez, 2010;Geboers, Geijsel, Admiraal, ten Dam, 2013;Korkmaz, Gümüseli, 2013;Materns, Gainous, 2013;McAvoy, Hess, 2013; z českých autorů např. Kudrnáč, 2017;Osoba, 2017;Šerek, 2017;Šerek, Macháčková, 2019). ...
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The paper considers the importance of citizenship education for the meaningful and effective involvement of individuals in civic life in contemporary democracies. Following this, the concept of an open classroom climate is discussed as a potentially suitable teaching strategy on how to effectively pass on civic knowledge to pupils and students. The authors try to answer the following research questions. Whether and if so, why do we need civic education and citizenship education? What do we mean by civic education? What should be the content and goals of civic education in today's democracies? And last but not least, what may civic education and citizenship education consist of?
... For a democracy to function optimally, ideally, all individuals and social groups make equal use of the opportunities to influence political decision-making (Levinson 2010;Hoskins and Janmaat 2019;Hoskins et al. 2021;Janmaat 2020). In view of this argument, there is no justifiable reason that certain groups are participating at lower levels and are heard less within political debates. ...
... Finally, the findings show that adolescents experience little room at school to share their views on subjects such as democratic issues. This corresponds with research showing that students in vocational educational tracks generally have less opportunities to learn about, and practice with, aspects of citizenship in an active and critical way than their peers in academic tracks (Eurydice, 2017;Ichilov, 2003;Levinson, 2010). However, the adolescents also mentioned they would appreciate the opportunity to discuss democratic issues more often in the classroom and through that, be able to voice their opinions. ...
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The views young people have towards democratic values shape their views in later life. However, the values that are fundamental to democracy, such as majority rule and minority rights, are often competing. This study aims to provide insight into the ways adolescents view democratic issues in which democratic values are competing. To do so, three democratic issues with varying conditions were designed, and discussed during interviews with students in vocational education. The results show that most adolescents consider both democratic values that underlie an issue. Furthermore, as the conditions in which the issues take place were altered during the interviews, adolescents explicitly evaluated different perspectives and starting shifting between both values. The findings of this study show that adolescents' views on democratic issues are layered, and include considering multiple democratic values and taking account of the conditions in which these are situated.
... Meanwhile, as cited by Broom (2015), empowerment is closely related to self-efficacy, a belief that one controls life and can make positive changes in surrounding environment, including in politics (Bandura, 1997;Beaumont, 2010;Fox & Rutter., 2010). A number of factors can influence self-efficacy such as feeling a sense of community mindedness or having a sense of civic duty (Levinson, 2010). It is alsos linked to one's identity, on how individuals understand or label themselves. ...
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This study sought to empower ABM students of Canda NHS which covered from January - June 2021 with the use of different plaforms such as messenger, google and limited face to face. This qualitative study utilized a descriptive-evaluative design. A research population of thirteen (13) and twenty-eight (28) with the total of forty-one (41) served as the respondents. Findings of the study revealed that the Project STARS (Strategic Action towards Radiant Students) is a great help project to empower students amidst pandemic. The ten (10) activities strategic action plan of the project must be consistently conduct yearly because it increase awareness, leadership as well as empowering students. With different programs and activities of the project, ABM students are able to lead, make decision, preparation of assigned functions and organize activities. No signal or internet connection and lack of budget are some of the major problems why only 80% attained participation of ABM students and all activities of the project via different online plaforms are very important and need to add Bookkeeping webinar. Further, the researcher recommended that Project STARS (Strategic Action towards Radiant Students) must be consistently doing yearly, enhance activities, and strengthening partnership and make school wide with the different programs such as capacity development program, barkada kontra droga program and solid waste management program since it had a great impact to ABM students.
... This type of engagement is measured via school-based tests that assess civic knowledge about the fundamental processes of American government, leaving out the participation component that is part and parcel of civic engagement (Gibson, 2001). 1 This knowledge-based approach tends to set apart White, privileged students who are taught civics in school as being engaged, and students of color, who are less likely to receive civic education, as being inherently disengaged. This idea undergirds two recent studies that have identified a civic opportunity or empowerment gap between youth who are poor, ethnic/racial minorities, or immigrants and those who are middle-class, White, and native-born citizens (Kahne & Middaugh, 2008;Levinson, 2010). If we limit our civic engagement research to knowledge-based efforts in schools, I contend that we will continue creating a skewed sense that youth of color are disproportionately disengaged and a narrow conception of civic engagement that ignores alternative forms of involvement that forefront an action orientation. ...
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Across the United States, researchers and youth workers alike have identified an increasing number of civically engaged youth who are organizing to improve their communities and schools. By taking an action-oriented approach, these youth are speaking back to the notion that they are uninvolved in society. This interview-based study explores the meaning-making experiences of youth organizers at Boston's Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) to better understand how they engage. Findings suggest that HSTF is engaging two broad groups of youth by focusing on both their personal development and their sense of community awareness. The study introduces an organizing model of youth engagement at the HSTF and calls on educators to consider organizing as an effective approach to civic engagement.
... Research found that poor and marginalized youth do not have the same opportunities to be civically engaged in activities such as extracurricular activities and community service (Hart & Atkins, 2002;Hart, Atkins, & Ford, 1998;Sherrod, 2003). The limited exposure that many poor youths received decreases their ability to build civic and political knowledge and learn about civic resources (Levinson, 2010;Verba et al., 2003). In addition, scholars are concerned with the educational attainment across multiple generations in poor families, as education significantly predicts greater civic and political engagement (McLeod et al. 2010). ...
Thesis
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This mixed-methods dissertation investigates the complicated relationship between the quality of formal educational attainment and political participation in the United States. Numerous federal level education reforms, influenced by the Corporate Education Reform (CER) movement, have impacted the quality of educational attainment, and the formal and informal democratic skills traditionally learned in schools. Using quantitative methods, this interdisciplinary work examines state-level variation in Common Core State Standard (CCSS) implementation, civics classes and exam standards, charter school enrollment, and the number of years students are required to take social studies classes. I argue that these varying conditions, as well as the dilution of the quality of formal educational attainment caused by CER, has impacted the ways high school students grow into participatory citizens. Using qualitative methods, I explore the ways educational standards in one state, over time, shaped teachers’ perceptions of civics education, and how schools have acted as democratic spaces that shape future participatory citizens. This study design allowed for combined approaches to address a complicated question: how changes in the education system, influenced by privatization reforms, have impacted political participation. Results from the quantitative chapters indicate that Common Core State Standards implementation, social studies year requirements, and charter school enrollment all have negative and statistically significant relationships with voter turnout rates, and a varying impact on political donations and the partisan direction of donations. The results from the qualitative analysis provide insight into how democratic spaces in schools have been altered through federal and state reforms, and increased privatization in the social studies and civics marketplace. The final chapter revisits the implications of both the quantitative and qualitative chapters, and presents policy implications and possibilities for future research.
... For a democracy to function optimally, ideally, all individuals and social groups make equal use of the opportunities to influence political decision-making (Levinson 2010;Hoskins and Janmaat 2019;Hoskins et al. 2021;Janmaat 2020). In view of this argument, there is no justifiable reason that certain groups are participating at lower levels and are heard less within political debates. ...
Article
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The current Special Issue has been inspired by the Seventh Annual Conference on Citizenship Education that was held in Roehampton University London, on 26–27 September 2019 [...]
... Já alunos em comunidades mais pobres, alunos não brancos e alunos com deficiência têm menos oportunidades de desenvolver conhecimento, atitudes, habilidades e práticas necessárias para a plena participação na vida democrática(LEVINE, 2009;LEVINSON, 2007; POPE, 2015). Essa situação tem implicações duradouras, pois a participação desigual nas escolas pode se estender até a vida adulta com participação política e poder desiguais(KAHNE, 2009;LEVINSON, 2009LEVINSON, , 2010WESTHEIMER, 2015). Nesse sentido, vários estudos têm mostrado correlações entre status socioeconômico, capacidade e raça, por um lado, e exposição à educação cívica e níveis de participação política de adultos, por outro(CIRCLE, 2012(CIRCLE, , 2013FLANAGAN;JAMIESON et al., 2011;LEVINE, 2010; HART; MATSUBA; ATKINS, 2014; LEVINE; KAWASHIMA-GINSBERG, 2015; LEVINSON, 2010; REBELL, 2017). ...
Article
Neste ano, celebramos três centenários que inspiraram muitos educadores progressistas em todo o mundo. Em primeiro lugar, 2021 marca o 100º aniversário da criação de Summerhill, uma das primeiras experiências (senão a primeira) sobre democracia escolar no mundo. Em segundo lugar, neste ano, comemoramos o 100º aniversário de Edgar Morin, um sociólogo e filósofo francês que dedicou sua vida em busca da justiça social e fez contribuições significativas para o papel da educação na promoção da democracia, da igualdade, da transformação social e da sustentabilidade (ver, por exemplo, MORIN, 2002). Em terceiro lugar, este ano marca o centenário do nascimento de Paulo Freire (1921-1997), um dos pensadores educacionais mais influentes da segunda metade do século XX. Considerando o tema desta edição especial da Revista Educação e Cultura Contemporânea, iremos nos concentrar nas conexões entre algumas das ideias de Paulo Freire (particularmente aquelas relacionadas à educação para a cidadania e a democracia escolar) e um processo conhecido como Orçamento Participativo nas escolas.
... In turn, Love critiques "character education" as propaganda because grit and zest are encouraged for Children of Color to survive the United States education system, rather than dismantling systems of oppression. Significant for social studies educators and researchers, Love builds upon Meira Levinson's "civic empowerment gap" (Levinson, 2010) in order to advocate for critical civics projects that provide Black, Indigenous, and Children of Color the critical knowledge and skills necessary to dismantle systems of oppression and actively rebuild solution-oriented communities. ...
... Civic engagement can also occur in community settings and may include taking action against community issues or working toward policies for housing and neighborhood development, among others. Scholars such as Levinson (2010) and Littenberg-Tobias and Cohen (2016) also note the racialized experiences of marginalized youth and youth of color which enable them to bring a unique perspective that can serve as a catalyst for deeper civic engagement. Overall, youth have the capacity for collective action and social change, particularly when they are supported by adults and other educational resources (Burke, Greene, & McKenna, 2016). ...
Article
Civic engagement is a critical component of diverse democracy, and youth have the capacity for meaningful engagement to create a more equitable society for all. Preparing youth for active participation in a diverse democracy entails supporting the development of diverse social relationships with a particular focus on providing experiences that stimulate positive intergroup contact between individuals from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. This paper outlines a conceptual model from which to understand the complex relationships between intergroup contact, social capital, and civic engagement. Of particular interest is the way in which intergroup contact can bring about changes in attitudes and behaviors relevant to youth civic engagement through the mediating factors of cultural awareness, prejudice reduction, awareness of systemic inequality, and social capital. In considering how these factors support one another and interact to encourage a trajectory of civic growth for diverse democracy, one can recognize and demonstrate a higher relational value of youth civic engagement.
... Of course, not all teachers in schools today see themselves as civics teachers. The dearth of consistent school-based civic-learning opportunities (Kahne & Middaugh, 2008a;Levinson, 2010) matters to the extent that a healthy democracy matters-that is, a lot. In their best form, school-based civic-learning experiences prepare young people to be and to become civic actors in their schools, their communities, and the world. ...
Article
A healthy democracy requires informed citizens on all sides of the political spectrum but extreme political polarization creates significant challenges. This study examines how teachers conceptualize civic education in an ideologically and racially diverse school district. Embedded within a research-practice partnership, this case offers timely insight into what civic education means to public school teachers in a politically polarized era and identifies three key problems of practice: teachers’ conceptualizations of civic education vary widely; teachers report an array of external challenges to integrating civics in their classrooms; and sociopolitical context differentially shapes teachers’ ideas about how to adapt their classroom practices. Overall, teachers recognize an increasingly grave need to develop students’ civic skills and dispositions, but do not feel systematically supported to provide such opportunities. These problems of practice can offer insight into how to best provide high-quality civic-learning experiences for students, especially in politically polarized times.
... Yet experiences of discrimination based on age, gender, race, ethnicity and other protected characteristics are still rife, and structural barriers to achieving meaningful equality of participation and opportunity also persist. Young middle-and higherincome citizens are disproportionately likely to have more political influence (Levinson, 2010), while the promise of the Internet to democratise and expand participation for young people remains contingent on social differences in race, class, and age (Banaji & Buckingham, 2013). Our previous research has also demonstrated the ways in which public policy and news discourses in the UK consistently devalue and marginalise active youth citizenship (Mejias & Banaji, 2018). ...
Book
Within many youth-focused or youth-led civic and political action groups in the UK, a common discursive refrain is the importance of promoting equality and diversity in politics in order to empower the participation of marginalised young people and communities. This chapter explores the dynamics of diversity in two youth-led UK political groups, in order to understand rhetorical positions and material outcomes of organisational commitments to prioritising diversity. Reflecting on the implications of the contrasting ‘diversity’ repertoires of both organisations (Momentum and My Life My Say), this chapter explores how economic, social and historical contexts inflect youth citizenship spaces and suggests how strategies for effective diversification of youth citizenship movements can begin to expand possibilities for meaningful inclusion practices in youth politics.
... The essay joins other scholars in civics education who have tacked related issues about forging togetherness through education while resisting demagoguery (e.g. Abowitz and Mamlok 2019;Levinson 2010;Stitzlein 2012Stitzlein , 2014, including those who call for a reorientation in how educators promote and practice civics education so that it takes into consideration that we live in a culture that is already demagogic (e.g. Steudeman 2019). ...
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This essay contributes to scholarly discussions on the affective politics of demagoguery, especially in relation to the rhetoric of white victimhood and resentment, by exploring how civics education could formulate an anti-demagogic pedagogical response. Contemporary understandings of demagoguery as a rhetoric that emphasizes in-group identity and frames solutions as a matter of punishing an out-group, while also converting the shared vulnerability of life into an affective politics of white victimhood, create a new urgency to reconsider how civics education may help students identify and interrogate demagoguery. This essay discusses potential risks in pedagogical efforts of civics education to confront demagoguery and examines ways out of these pedagogical missteps. The essay joins other scholars who call for a reorientation in how educators promote and practice civics education so that it takes into consideration that we live in a culture that is already demagogic.
... The importance of studying youth's belief in the fairness of people and institutions that are relevant in their lives lays in its relationship with various aspects of their well-being. Youth's sense of fairness in how other people, especially authority figures, treat them is correlated with academic achievement (Bryk & Schneider, 2003;Goddard et al., 2009;Lareau, 2003), violent behavior at school (Ochoa et al., 2007), stress coping strategies (Furnham, 2003;Oppenheimer, 2006), development of morality, sense of justice (Lerner, 2004;Smetana, 1999), and civic engagement (Levinson, 2010;Sullivan & Transue, 1999). Thus, youth whose social environments are "toxic" and characterized by injustice and lack of reciprocity on the part of caregivers (authorities) may develop beliefs that life is based on power and domination rather than caring or forgiveness . ...
Article
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Our perceptions of the world are lastingly shaped by our sociocultural and political place in the world. Social positionalities provide epistemic means through which social processes are perceived, experienced, and articulated. This paper explores how the contrasting social worlds in which adolescents from differently advantaged positions within a society live, inform, and shape their sense-making about social justice. Sixty-four adolescents from multiple neighborhoods around New York City partook in the study. Participants were invited to read a hypothetical vignette describing an ambiguous social situation that plausibly involves instances of unfairness. Upon reading the vignette, they were invited to retell the story multiple times from the positions of the self, of the likely victim, and the perpetrator of unfair deeds. Adolescents’ narratives were analyzed by looking at the way they understood the situation described (e.g., as an instance of exclusion, or misunderstanding, or else) and at how explicitly they narrated about injustice. Findings indicate that youth from less privileged backgrounds were more likely to see unfairness happening in the story they read, when compared to their more privileged counterparts. Additionally, less privileged youth narrated more openly about unfairness, using the language that is more saturated with expressions addressing exclusion, lying, and deception. The findings support the notion that people coming from backgrounds that carry less power in society (e.g., being of color, poor, immigrant) are more likely to have access to more sophisticated and articulated narratives of social conflict, endowing them with a more critical perspective over situations involving power dynamics.
... Given differential demographic distribution across public, Catholic and independent school sectors in Australia, structurally marginalised young people have fewer school opportunities to raise voices, be heard and engage politically (Walker 2020). In this way, policy perpetuates a 'civic empowerment gap' (Levinson 2010). It is urgent to redress such unequal classed, gendered and racialised 'student voice' policy-in-practice (Author 2020). ...
Article
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The history of Australian mass schooling has seen contestations over school and curriculum purposes, zig-zagging across conservative and progressive directions. In this paper, we examine how possibilities for students to have ‘voice’, ‘participation’ and ‘leadership’ in their learning are currently limited in Australia. Policy framings, we argue, dampen potentials for connecting young people’s democratic and activist impulses – manifest, in our example, in the Schools Strike for Climate movement – with curriculum activity that responds to local-global challenges such as the viral-ecological crisis. We propose an activist curriculum praxis wherein young people undertake action-research – in collaboration with diverse community actors, teachers and academics – on problems that matter for local-global future life with others. Since local-global emergencies are emergent, curriculum must build citizen-capacities to work together, apprenticing to problems that matter for social futures, creating emergently needed knowledge-in-action. This participatory-democratic curriculum approach challenges schools to become more socially just and proactive institutions.
... This focus has emphasised the role of the classroom climate as an environment that could have an impact on students' political outcomes and knowledge (Alivernini and Manganelli 2011;Quintelier 2010). While the strength of an open classroom climate to support the civic development of youth has been documented in dozens of studies spanning decades (see overview in Knowles et al. 2018), many schools are often unable to provide such spaces for all students (Castro and Knowles 2017;Levinson 2010). While many factors contribute to this deficiency, the political and ideological nature of the schooling experience likely plays a role. ...
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This study investigates civic and citizenship education in a unique post-Communist context–in the bilingual education system of Estonia. Estonia continues to have a bilingual school system where there are Estonian and Russian language schools in parallel. While Estonian language school students are ranked very high in international comparisons, there is a significant difference between the achievement of Estonian and Russian language school students. We claim that this minority achievement gap in the performance of civic and citizenship knowledge is in addition to family background characteristics explained by behavioral and attitudinal factors that are moderated by the school language. Behavioral and attitudinal independent variables that we consider relevant in our analysis are classroom climate, trust in various media channels, and students’ beliefs in the influence of religion. We rely on hierarchical modeling to capture the embedded data and aim to explain how the different layers (school- and student level) interact and impact civic knowledge. We show that an open classroom is beneficial to students and part of the gap can be explained by Russian school students’ lower involvement in such practices. The strength of the belief in the influence of religion, on the contrary, is hurting students, despite that the negative effect is smaller for minority students there is a higher aggregate negative effect of it and therefore it also contributes to the minority achievement gap. Media trust indicators explain the gap marginally while the high trust of social media hurts students’ civic knowledge scores–still more Russian school students trust social media more than Estonian school students.
Article
Examining the connections among teacher characteristics, instructional decision-making, and student learning in social studies education are both complicated and contentious. In the current study, we shed light on middle grades social studies teaching and learning—a black hole of research in the subject area. Using data from the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) eighth grade U.S. history assessment, we explore the intersections of eighth grade social studies teachers’ teacher education pathways, instructional, decision-making, and curricular structure on students’ knowledge of history. Results suggest that teachers identified as having a social studies-inclusive teacher education background and who only teach social studies (as opposed to multiple subjects) were associated with higher average student performance on the NAEP exam. Findings have implications for middle grades social studies teacher education and how the subject is organized within middle schools.
Article
Background/Context There is currently a dearth of research on Asian American civic engagement broadly, and the scholarship on Asian American youth is even more limited. The lack of research contributes to opacity in understanding how Asian Americans fit into the civic landscape. Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study This study offers a window into the civic engagement experiences of a group of Asian American youth and differentiates the motivations that initiated their civic engagement from the motivations that sustained it. The research questions are: (a) How do these Asian American adolescents describe the motivations behind their civic engagement? (b) How do they make choices among different kinds of civic engagement? (c) What do they describe as the impact of their civic engagement? Research Design Participants in this study were 14 highly engaged Asian American youth, 16 to 18 years of age, from a small city in the Northeast. I conducted semistructured interviews with the participants, examining their descriptions of civic involvement. Knowledge of youth civic engagement has tended to emanate from survey studies that count and categorize civic participation as opposed to investigating youth’s own meaning-making of their civic activities. Thus, to answer the “why” of civic participation, I took a grounded theory approach to explore youth’s own constructions of what motivated their civic involvement. Findings/Results Participants initiated civic involvement with instrumental motivations to “look good for college” and socialize with friends, whereas continuing civic engagement was supported by a deep relational commitment to teenage colleagues in their civic endeavors, a sense of self-efficacy engendered through complex civic work, and pride in making a tangible impact on their community. Asian American youth in this study demonstrated sophisticated capabilities as civic actors and sustained their civic engagement through organizations that scaffolded the development of such capabilities. Conclusions/Recommendations Participants’ experiences illustrate how civic engagement motivations can change. While individuals were the unit of analysis in this study, participants’ experiences point strongly to the integral role of organizations in supporting continued, rather than intermittent, civic engagement. Specifically, organizations can support youth in continuing their civic involvement in the long term by facilitating conditions for young people to build deep relationships in furtherance of common goals and appealing to identities that can be bolstered through civic participation.
Article
Traditional notions of civic education often introduce privilege and reproduce Eurocentric notions of citizenship. Proponents of cultural citizenship champion Black cultural knowledge, and critical race pedagogies to help marginalized individuals, including students of color, actualize their agentic selves. This manuscript presents three vignettes to demonstrate how teachers implemented the Black Lives Matter at School's 13 Guiding Principles to develop Black cultural citizenship with students. Three salient aspects emerged: (1) the need for students to be active contributors in the current movement for Black liberation; (2) a call to support students unlearning and relearning Black history; and (3) instruction that provides opportunities for students to recognize and challenge systems of oppression.
Chapter
The purpose of the social studies is to prepare students for life as citizens in a democratic society, and this requires attention to the variety of digital spaces inhabited by our K-12 students in today's increasingly digitized world. Incorporating participatory technologies into structured inquiries in the social studies may help develop students' skills and abilities in critically sourcing, evaluating, sharing, and creating media, and provides the opportunity for increasingly democratic participation and civic engagement both in and out of the school setting. In this chapter, the authors suggest the integration of participatory literacy with the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) framework as a means of supporting students in taking informed action.
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New media studies have attracted increasing scholarly attention as communication technologies become integrated into our everyday lives. New media provide unique contexts to share, record, and extend civic life and motivate civic commitment in the digital era. This chapter addresses the intersection of new media, culture, and political communication by exploring youths' civic engagement in China and Japan through individual voluntarism, civic participation, and political activism. It interrogates the civic use of social network sites in the digital age so as to increase our understanding of intercultural online interactions. Through the case studies of China and Japan, this research adds to the knowledge of intercultural communication in the networked society, with its potential to promote more democratic forms of engagement between citizens and states in the contexts of new media.
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Informed by Critical Race Theory, this quantitative study supports civic educators in understanding the role of classroom climate and racial identity in students' civic engagement during a statewide middle school civics mandate (n = 4707). Findings reveal that students of color experience higher civic engagement and lower civic attitude scores than white-identifying peers, after controlling for school, classroom, and affluence indicators. Students' perception of whiteness (or perhaps majority status) appeared to correlate with positive civic knowledge and civic attitude, but relative civic inaction. These findings suggest differences in civic outcomes as early as middle school between white-identifying students and students of color. Such differences offer implications for civic education interventions that address not only effective instruction, but civic inequities, students’ perceived agency, and curricular content.
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This paper examines the development of the impact of family background on young people’s political engagement during adolescence and early adulthood in order to test a number of hypotheses derived from the impressionable years and family socialization perspectives. The study analyses data of the British Household Panel Study and Understanding Society to assess these hypotheses. Political interest and voting intentions are used as outcomes of political engagement. The study finds parental education to have no effect on initial levels of these outcomes at age 11 but to be positively related to the change in these outcomes between ages 11 and 15. This indicates that the effect of parental education becomes stronger over time and that social disparities in political engagement are widening significantly during early adolescence. In contrast, parental political engagement is positively related to initial levels of voting intentions at age 11 but not related to the change in voting intentions between ages 11 and 15, which supports the hypothesis drawn from the family socialization perspective. Neither parental education nor parental political engagement are related to post-16 changes in political engagement. These results point to early adolescence as a crucial period for the manifestation of social inequalities in political engagement. They provisionally suggest that the influence of parental education runs through educational conditions in lower secondary and that these conditions could play an important role in amplifying the said inequalities.
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Citizen engagement is a critical part of a democracy. As citizens engage with a democracy, they must possess the skills to critically examine information and couple it with the ability to exercise analytical skills. This will allow them to investigate information to discern truth from lies. In this chapter, the authors argue that higher education has a role in cultivating participation in the democratic process, as education is for the public good. Through democratic engagement, students will gain the skills needed to be informed citizens. Democratic engagement on campus done right has to have the proper infrastructure and intentional inclusion efforts.
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This paper analyzes the role of digital and civic literacies in the context of resurgent right-wing ethno-nationalism and movements for the abolition of oppressive institutions worldwide. We discuss how, while digital tools have opened up lines of democratized communication and action, civic life online and offline has become both more authoritarian and more polarized. As software platforms like Facebook and Twitter now dominate everyday civic and economic life, media and civic literacy frameworks fail to address this new reality. After overviewing a framework for literacies in current digital and civic contexts, we draw on critical race science and technology studies in order to contest notions of a universal digital or civic subject, and to argue for moving beyond normative progress discourses. Instead, we offer an abolitionist imagination, arguing that classroom approaches to critical digital literacies must draw on abolitionist praxis in order to challenge ways interlocking forms of oppression affect contemporary civic life, both online and offline.
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This article details a national study of U.S. K–12 civics and government state-mandated standards, drawing specific attention to how Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty are represented. Utilizing QuantCrit methodologies informed by Tribal Critical Race Theory, this study makes visible colonial logics embedded within state civics and government standards that normalize the erasure of Indigenous nationhood, or that subtly and discursively erase Indigenous nationhood in other ways. Additional attention is also given to states that explicitly affirm contemporary Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty within the standards. By examining the ways state standards erase and/or affirm Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty, our hope is to support Indigenous and allied educators in their collective efforts to transform standards in their respective states to more responsibly reflect and support Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty.
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We challenge the widely held view that classic American voluntary groups were tiny, local, and disconnected from government. Using newly collected data to develop a theoretically framed account, we show that membership associations emerged early in U.S. history and converged toward the institutional form of the representatively governed federation. This form enabled leaders and members to spread interconnected groups across an expanding nation. At the height of local proliferation, most voluntary groups were part of regional or national federations that mirrored the structure of U.S. government. Institutionalist theories suggest reasons for this parallelism, which belies the rigid dichotomy between state and civil society that informs much current discussion of civic engagement in the United States and elsewhere.
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Which of the following headlines never appeared in a daily newspaper? (a) Capital City Students Show No Gain in Reading, Math- Governor Threatens Takeover (b) Middletown Schools to be Taken Over by State for Failure to Develop Democratic Citizens If you answered (b), you not only answered correctly, your response also reflected an important challenge facing our democracy today: Although we say that we value a democratic society, the very institutions expected to prepare democratic citizens-our schools-have moved far from this central mission. There is now frequent talk of "state takeovers" of schools that fail to raise test scores in math or reading, but it is unimaginable that any school would face such an action because it failed to prepare its graduates for democratic citizenship.
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This paper is drawn from a larger qualitative study that explores the perspectives of eight retired Black school superintendents who personally experienced segregated schools as students and subsequent desegregation efforts as administrators. Unlike much of the mainstream literature that extols the virtues of desegregation for Black children, their accounts tell a very different story. Their reflections suggest that although they ‘got what they fought for,’ they ‘lost what they had’ and that many of the problems attributed to Black education today ‘started with desegregation.’ This study adds to the growing literature that interrogates the widely accepted assumptions that desegregation resulted in significant educational progress for Black children. Further, the perspectives of Black superintendents, which are often missing or forgotten in education research, can help inform our understanding of race‐conscious education policies and the role they play in promoting and/or realizing racial equality and social justice in education.
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Educators and policymakers increasingly pursue programs that aim to strengthen democracy through civic education, service learning, and other pedagogies. Their underlying beliefs, however, differ. This article calls attention to the spectrum of ideas about what good citizenship is and what good citizens do that are embodied in democratic education programs. It offers analyses of a 2-year study of educational programs in the United States that aimed to promote democracy. Drawing on democratic theory and on findings from their study, the authors detail three conceptions of the “good” citizen—personally responsible, participatory, and justice oriented—that underscore political implications of education for democracy. The article demonstrates that the narrow and often ideologically conservative conception of citizenship embedded in many current efforts at teaching for democracy reflects not arbitrary choices but, rather, political choices with political consequences.
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Activism and organizing can be a fertile subject matter for young people to study. This article presents a case study of a summer seminar in which urban high school students examined the historical struggle for educational justice in their communities. Adopting a “communities of practice” approach to learning, the article documents the changing participation of seminar participants and the changing identities and skills that this entailed. During the seminar, students took on identities as “critical researchers”— skilled investigators who produce and share knowledge relevant to social change. In the process, seminar participants developed and deployed high-level academic skills in language arts, social studies, and mathematics.
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When the landmark Supreme Court case of Brown vs. Board of Education was handed down in 1954, many civil rights advocates believed that the decision, which declared public school segregation unconstitutional, would become the Holy Grail of racial justice. Fifty years later, despite its legal irrelevance and the racially separate and educationally ineffective state of public schooling for most black children, Brown is still viewed by many as the perfect precedent. Here, Derrick Bell shatters the shining image of this celebrated ruling. He notes that, despite the onerous burdens of segregation, many black schools functioned well and racial bigotry had not rendered blacks a damaged race. He maintains that, given what we now know about the pervasive nature of racism, the Court should have determined instead to rigorously enforce the "equal" component of the "separate but equal" standard. Racial policy, Bell maintains, is made through silent covenants--unspoken convergences of interest and involuntary sacrifices of rights--that ensure that policies conform to priorities set by policy-makers. Blacks and whites are the fortuitous winners or losers in these unspoken agreements. The experience with Brown, Bell urges, should teach us that meaningful progress in the quest for racial justice requires more than the assertion of harms. Strategies must recognize and utilize the interest-convergence factors that strongly influence racial policy decisions. In Silent Covenants, Bell condenses more than four decades of thought and action into a powerful and eye-opening book.
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This chapter discusses political education, which fosters the realization of universal political participation and respect for everyone's civil rights. Before beginning an exploration of political education, it is necessary to distinguish among political socialization, political education in a general sense, and political education that fosters human rights. Political socialization is the totality of experiences through which one develops cognitive understandings and attitudes toward the political world. Both formal and non-formal educational experiences contribute to political socialization. Political education consists of those aspects of education that are planned particularly to develop students' competencies in thinking about and acting in political arenas. Political education can be thought of as developing four dimensions—information, values, inquiry skills, and participation. Political education most often conveys information about the structure and function of government, the rights and responsibilities of citizens, and how the political process works. Political education may attempt to develop values of national loyalty and concern for justice, equality, and freedom.
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In spite of Brown v. Board of Education, U.S. schools have never really been desegregated and recent patterns of movement among Hispanics and blacks suggest that the pattern that has existed in urban schools for decades will now be repeated in the suburbs.
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Using a vast swath of data spanning the past six decades, Unequal Democracy debunks many myths about politics in contemporary America, using the widening gap between the rich and the poor to shed disturbing light on the workings of American democracy. Larry Bartels shows the gap between the rich and poor has increased greatly under Republican administrations and decreased slightly under Democrats, leaving America grossly unequal. This is not simply the result of economic forces, but the product of broad-reaching policy choices in a political system dominated by partisan ideologies and the interests of the wealthy. Bartels demonstrates that elected officials respond to the views of affluent constituents but ignore the views of poor people. He shows that Republican presidents in particular have consistently produced much less income growth for middle-class and working-poor families than for affluent families, greatly increasing inequality. He provides revealing case studies of key policy shifts contributing to inequality, including the massive Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 and the erosion of the minimum wage. Finally, he challenges conventional explanations for why many voters seem to vote against their own economic interests, contending that working-class voters have not been lured into the Republican camp by "values issues" like abortion and gay marriage, as commonly believed, but that Republican presidents have been remarkably successful in timing income growth to cater to short-sighted voters. Unequal Democracy is social science at its very best. It provides a deep and searching analysis of the political causes and consequences of America's growing income gap, and a sobering assessment of the capacity of the American political system to live up to its democratic ideals.
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Youth-led organizing, a burgeoning movement that empowers young people while simultaneously enabling them to make substantive contributions to their communities, is increasingly receiving attention from scholars, activists, and the media. This book studies this dynamic field. It takes an important step toward bridging the gap between academic knowledge and community practice in this growing area. The book's social justice-rooted perspective on the field's conceptual and practical foundations is an effective basis for analyzing youth-led community organizing, but it also offers glimpses of successful groups in action and helpful insight into how fledgling organizations can become stronger. These groups and their young participants represent the politics and activism of the future, and the book guides to their key aspects and recent developments.
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Class does make a difference in the lives and futures of American children. Drawing on in-depth observations of black and white middle-class, working-class, and poor families, Unequal Childhoods explores this fact, offering a picture of childhood today. Here are the frenetic families managing their children's hectic schedules of "leisure" activities; and here are families with plenty of time but little economic security. Lareau shows how middle-class parents, whether black or white, engage in a process of "concerted cultivation" designed to draw out children's talents and skills, while working-class and poor families rely on "the accomplishment of natural growth," in which a child's development unfolds spontaneously—as long as basic comfort, food, and shelter are provided. Each of these approaches to childrearing brings its own benefits and its own drawbacks. In identifying and analyzing differences between the two, Lareau demonstrates the power, and limits, of social class in shaping the lives of America's children. The first edition of Unequal Childhoods was an instant classic, portraying in riveting detail the unexpected ways in which social class influences parenting in white and African American families. A decade later, Annette Lareau has revisited the same families and interviewed the original subjects to examine the impact of social class in the transition to adulthood.
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In this article, Thea Renda Abu El-Haj shares her research on how a group of Palestinian American high school youth understand themselves as members of the U.S. community, of the Palestinian American community, and of communities in Palestine. She argues that, for these youth, coming to terms with who they are has a great deal to do both with how they view themselves and how Palestinian Americans are viewed in the imagined community of the United States, especially after September 11, 2001. Her research reports on the tensions these youth face as they deal with school issues, like pledging allegiance to the U.S. flag, teacher harassment, and disciplinary sanctions related to being framed as "terrorists," that affect how they think about citizenship and belonging. Given the complex way these and other youth experience belonging, Abu El-Haj ends with a call for a greater commitment to, and a more nuanced understanding of, citizenship education.
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On the panorama of the twentieth century, occasionally a red glow emanated from a city electrified by the culture of the left: red Vienna of the 1920s and 1930s; Moscow, after the Revolution; Weimar Berlin; Paris '68. Midcentury New York, with its Broadway musicals, liberal Democratic leaders, and commercialized mass culture, seems a world apart. "Cultural Capital of the World," some dubbed it, not for its radicalism, but for its embrace of depoliticized modernism—abstract painting, modern dance, jazz, International-style architecture. Yet in its own way, New York in the 1940s and early 1950s had a tangle of left culture as dense as any in the history of the United States. This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.
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William Wilson and other scholars argue that one of the attributes of devastated neighborhoods is social isolation. We shall explore whether neighborhoods that seem to indicate significant social isolation also foster political isolation. We begin our examination by providing a description of the poor in the samples from the 1989 Detroit Area Study. We then turn our attention toward analyzing the effects of neighborhood poverty on African–American public opinion and political participation. We conclude with a discussion of how neighborhood poverty affects African-American politics and the consequences of those politics for the theory and practice of American democracy.
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Students' ignorance of civics is often viewed with alarm, as in interpretations of the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); yet adults' incomplete knowledge of government is considered by many to be reasonable and acceptable. We show that aggregate distributions of political knowledge are actually quite similar for students and adults. However, the types of questions differ greatly: Where adults are typically asked about contemporary politics, students are asked about political institutions. We also show that the construction of NAEP does not permit comparative identification of knowledge levels across sub-topics. Moreover, we note that levels of performance are determined only after the results of the test are known, making it difficult to evaluate the success of civic education. We conclude that understanding student knowledge levels—and thus evaluating civic education—requires careful scrutiny of the content and construction of the NAEP test, and perhaps requires changes that more readily permit comparison of students' performance against preestablished criteria; across topics, states, or time; or between today's students and various generations of adults.
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The Council of the American Political Science Association approved the appointment of a Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy in the fall of 2002. A fifteen-member task force was convened in January 2003 and collectively worked during the subsequent eighteen months to prepare extensive reviews of research on inequality and American democracy. (The research reviews are available on the APSA Web site—as are materials for undergraduate and graduate teaching—http://www.apsanet.org/inequality.) Based on three reviews, the task force prepared a short report, which forms the basis of the present text. It concludes that progress toward realizing American ideals of democracy may have stalled—and in some arenas reversed. The task force's work was extensively and rigorously debated among its members, scrutinized by three distinguished independent peers, and reviewed by the APSA Council. This report is ultimately the responsibility of its authors; no opinions, statements of fact, or conclusions should be attributed to the American Political Science Association or to the Russell Sage Foundation, which provided some support to the task force. The members of the task force are: Lawrence Jacobs (Chair, University of Minnesota), Ben Barber (University of Maryland), Larry Bartels (Princeton University), Michael Dawson (Harvard University), Morris Fiorina (Stanford University), Jacob Hacker (Yale University), Rodney Hero (Notre Dame University), Hugh Heclo (George Mason University), Claire Jean Kim (University of California, Irvine), Suzanne Mettler (Syracuse University), Benjamin Page (Northwestern University), Dianne Pinderhughes (University of Illinois, Champagne–Urbana), Kay Lehman Schlozman (Boston College), Theda Skocpol (Harvard University), and Sidney Verba (Harvard University). © 2004, American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.
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This article reports on one facet of a researcher–practitioner project undertaken with class of 23 diverse fifth graders. The project was rooted in taking recent history education reforms seriously. It was premised principally on reforms dealing with teaching practices found in the history standards and the research literature. As the researcher–practitioner, the author engaged the students in historical investigations to help them learn to think historically and better understand the past. He operated from a theoretical framework based on how he believed historical thinking and understanding occur for such novice learners. During the first three lessons, on Jamestown’s “Starving Time,” the author and class encountered history’s interpretive paradox. The article begins with an analogy drawn from the discipline of history. It then describes classroom events. The analysis focuses on a teaching dilemma that the encounter with the paradox provoked and conveys how the author’s pedagogical thinking and decision making were influenced by that encounter. The discussion of the dilemma suggests how research and reform in history education and the theories that underpin them mingle, in promising but unpredictable ways.
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The author examines the relative impact of concentrated-poverty neighborhoods and social isolation on the political behavior of white and black inner-city residents. She demonstrates that social isolation undermines the political participation of blacks and that residence in concentrated-poverty neighborhoods is most detrimental to the political participation of whites. The effects of social isolation and concentrated-poverty neighborhoods exert substantively and statistically significant effects on the political behavior of whites as well as blacks above and beyond the influences of human capital characteristics and sociopolitical resources.
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After presenting demographic data to demonstrate why immigrant youth are and will be important, this article addresses the limited literature on immigrant youth civic engagement. It also examines the historical literature of immigrant youth in the United States, specifically that of the last great wave of immigration approximately 100 years ago, along with the literature on contemporary adult immigrant civic engagement. It concludes that today's immigrant youth are Americanizing. Nevertheless, when U.S. society and particularly the U.S. state treats immigrant youth as different, the immigrant youth respond with pride by defending their cultural integrity, their right to be different. Contemporary immigrant youth also have the opportunity to maintain transnational ties with their homeland. In response to these forces and opportunities, immigrant youth maintain multiple identities, sometimes identifying with their homeland culture at other times with the United States. The unanswered question is what difference these multiple ties may make for civic engagement.
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Civic competence and obstacles to its development are explored in urban youth. Our review suggests that urban youth lag behind suburban adolescents in civic knowledge and civic participation. These lags may be attributable to low levels of political participation among urban adults, educational failures, and a lack of childhood opportunities to join clubs and teams. A comparison of a small city and a neighboring suburban town illustrates both the intertwined obstacles that confront urban youth on the path to civic development and the difficulty that most urban centers face in improving opportunities for civic development. We conclude that urban youth's genuine interest in acquiring civic competence is frustrated by demographic factors largely outside the control of those living in America's cities.
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Schools achieve the best results in fostering civic engagement when they rigorously teach civic content and skills, ensure an open classroom climate for discussing issues, emphasize the importance of the electoral process, and encourage a participative school culture. Schools whose students do not plan to attend college and have few educational resources at home face a special challenge. These are among the conclusions of the IEA Civic Education Study in which 90,000 14-year-olds in 28 countries were tested on knowledge of civic content and skills and were surveyed about concepts of citizenship, attitudes toward governmental and civic institutions, and political actions.
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Recent studies have documented the potential of youth activism for influencing political change toward socially just ends. This special issue builds on such research by focusing on youth activism as a context for learning and development. What kinds of learning opportunities are generated through working on social action campaigns? How do adults support youth's participation in ways that foster youth engagement and leadership? In addition to previewing the articles in this issue, this introduction proposes and describes four distinctive qualities of learning environments in youth activism groups: collective problem solving, youth—adult interaction, exploration of alternative frames for identity, and bridges to academic and civic institutions. It concludes by highlighting directions for future research.
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Dans cet article, l'auteur se propose d'analyser les similitudes dans l'education des Afro-americains et sud-africains noirs durant les periodes de segregation et d'Apartheid. La nature de l'oppression en milieu scolaire permet de lier les approches des Etats-Unis et de l'Afrique du Sud en matiere d'education pour les populations visees ainsi que l'usage par les communautes noires, dans ces deux contextes, de l'education comme ascenseur social, permettant de depasser les limites imposees par la segregation. Il est a noter egalement les strategies identiques, dans ces deux environnements, mises en place par les parents, les chefs d'etablissements et les enseignants pour encourager les eleves a depasser le contexte de l'oppression...