Participation as Conception of Citizenship Education: European and National Contests: Critical Conceptualisations

Participants: Reinhold Hedtke (Bielefeld University); Tatjana Zimenkova (CGES).

Further participants: Helena Costa Araujo (University of Proto); Anu Toots (Tallin University); Concepcion Naval (University of Navarra); Isabel Menezes (University of Proto)

Participation seems to be both: a well-studied and basically non-operationalized conception within citizenship education in Europe. The claim of European institutions, educational policies and national states to educate active democratic citizen results in a prominent position of “participation” within policies, practices and conceptualisations of citizenship education in Europe. The analytical challenge for the scholars of citizenship education is primarily the lacking conceptualisation of participation and the lacking link to theories of democracy. Participation seems to be an important feature, European citizens of all ages and in all European countries should be educated towards. At the same time participation seems to be a very broad conception, including activities from participating in charity activities through sending sms to the membership in a football club, from working with homeless to organising political protest actions. Research projects and publication activities seek to answer the questions, what kind of participation is being transmitted to young citizens in Europe, which conceptions of democracy – if at all – correspond to the idea of citizenship participation, as transmitted by citizenship Education in Europe, and what kind of citizenship activities- and self-perceptions young European citizens are likely to internalise by means of education towards active democratic participation. A theoretical goal of the project is the conceptualisation of “participation” as a term along the different conceptions of democracy and the development of a critical conceptualisation of participation for the educational sphere.

The study of the conception of participation is essential for detecting the similarities and specifics of democracy as educational conception and educational practice in different parts of Europe and thus the possible transformations of democratic education in Europe within processes of Europeanization, Globalisation and transformation.