Citizenship education in divided societies: Teachers’ perspectives in Northern Ireland

Ulrike Niens, U. O'Connor, A. Smith

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper aimed to investigate in what ways teachers’ developing understandings of citizenship education in a divided society reflect discourses around national citizenship and controversial issues. Based on thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 13 post-primary teachers in Northern Ireland undertaking an in-service programme in citizenship, findings indicate that the controversial nature of past conflict maintains its sensitivity in the educational context though other categories of potential exclusion, such as race and sexuality, compete for space in educational discourse and teaching. Few teachers used controversial issues identified as challenging hegemonic beliefs as an opportunity for role modelling citizenship. However, teachers rarely explored the complex interlinkages between traditional and alternative categories of exclusion. It is argued that this may render teachers’ understandings of citizenship and societal conflict disconnected, which in turn may hinder the potential for citizenship education to address societal divisions and to promote active peace in the long-term.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)128-141
    Number of pages13
    JournalCitizenship Studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geography, Planning and Development
    • Political Science and International Relations


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