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Social capital and citizenship lessons in England: analysing the presuppositions of citizenship education

By Ben Kisby


This article examines the impact of the concept of social capital on the citizenship education initiative in England through its influence on the normative content of the policy, as embodied in the report of the Advisory Group on Citizenship (AGC) – which was one of the immediate causes of the inclusion of citizenship in the National Curriculum in 2002. It argues that the policy is underpinned by what it describes as a hybrid ‘republican–communitarian’ model of citizenship (the model implicitly advanced by the US political scientist Robert Putnam in his work on social capital), which emphasizes the value of political participation by citizens and the extent to which this participation is reliant on community membership. The article argues that the model of citizenship advanced\ud by the AGC embodies crucial tensions between its republican and communitarian elements and by its being situated within the context of an uncritical acceptance of the boundaries prescribed by neo-liberal economic orthodoxy, which necessarily undermines the community attachments that the citizenship education policy seeks to promote

Topics: L410 UK Social Policy, L400 Social Policy
Publisher: Sage Publications
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1177/1746197908099376
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