Wednesday, 5 March 2014
The failure of civic education
Nathan Manning’s collaboration with Kathy Edwards at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has continued with a new publication. Their article in Sociological Research Online builds on the findings of their previous research into civic education to explore some of the reasons why civic and citizenship education has not increased young people’s electoral participation. The article draws upon more sociological research which highlights the range of barriers and obstacles young people confront when trying to participate in politics. At the same time, young people have been involved in various activities which are reshaping the meaning and practice of politics, making electoral participation just one way (an increasingly unattractive way in the eyes of many young people) of doing politics. Assuming that policy makers desire to promote genuinely meaningful political participation amongst young people, rather than use citizenship education as a tool of governance, to impose a narrow definition of politics and blame young people for voting with their feet, there is much they could learn from the sociological literature, or, put differently, much that sociology could teach.