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Ironies of democracy: Purposes of education and the construction of citizens in Sweden, India and the United States

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With relatively few comparative studies of civics curricula in diverse democratic contexts and world regions, this article considers how civic values are negotiated in national curricular policy texts. To explore the purposes of education and the construction of citizens in curricular documents, we layer two theoretical frameworks together – Biesta’s framework examining the purposes of education and Westheimer and Kahne’s framework examining the types of civic education. Looking at curricular frameworks from Sweden, India and the United States, we engaged qualitative content analysis to identify common themes of civic values across these nations: workforce preparation, positioning in society and democratic questioning. We found growing commonality of how ‘citizenry’ is increasingly being defined in terms of individual contributions to the larger enterprises of the nation and the global economy.
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Keywords: citizenship; civic education; civic goals; curricular frameworks; purposes of education

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: The Pennsylvania State University 2: LuleƄ University of Technology 3: Georgia State University 4: Centre for Budget and Policy Studies 5: Indiana University Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC)

Publication date: April 1, 2016

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  • Citizenship Teaching and Learning is global in scope, exploring issues of social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy. It advances academic and professional understandings within a broad characterisation of education, focussing on a wide range of issues including identity, diversity, equality and social justice within social, moral, political and cultural contexts.
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