Contemporary Discourses of Citizenship
Meanings of “citizenship,” a concept that has informed teaching practices since nation-states first institutionalized schooling, are shaped over time and through cultural struggles. This article presents a conceptual framework for the discourses that currently construct the meanings of citizenship in contemporary Western cultures, particularly the United States. Using discourse analysis, the authors examine texts related to citizenship and citizenship education from 1990 through 2003, identifying seven distinct but overlapping frameworks that ascribe meaning to citizenship. The “civic republican” and “liberal” frameworks are the most influential in shaping current citizenship education; five others are the most active in contesting the terrain of citizenship practices in lived political arenas. The “transnational” and “critical” discourses have yet to significantly challenge the dominant discourses that shape citizenship education in schools. This article questions the view of political life in Western democracies that is promoted by the dominant discourses of citizenship in K–12 schooling.
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