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The role of lifelong learning in building citizenship: European Union approaches in the light of British and colonial experience

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This article considers European Union measures to strengthen ‘citizenship' through the use of lifelong learning in the light of two twentieth‐century British initiatives. European citizenship is discussed, and current EU initiatives to harness lifelong learning to the development of citizenship are briefly outlined. Aspects of British and colonial experienced are then explored. The particular cases studied are: attempts to develop enhanced citizenship in 1940s Britain; and community dvelopment for citizenship learning in the British colonial empire after 1945. EU policies share a ‘thick' conception of citizenship with both these historical cases; ‘thick' conceptions may be necessary in order to mobilise educational movements. In the historical cases examined, this approach was constantly challenged by demands for economic efficiency, and proved insufficiently strongly‐embedded in official thinking. In the contemporary EU, comparable tensions exist; though the outcome remains unclear.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Surrey, UK

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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