Citizenship education in the global era : a comparative case study of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

  • Elizabeth Welty

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis explores how citizenship education is preparing children for life in the global, multicultural era. Globalisation is impacting upon the understanding and practice of citizenship, and multiculturalism that the education systems are increasingly accommodating. This thesis uses a variety of political, multicultural and educational concepts to describe how globalisation is translated into curriculum designed to prepare children for life in the global era. It presents the findings from a comparative case study in the North and South of Ireland, focusing on how the curriculum policy, Principals, teachers and children from two secondary schools, with a diverse student body, conceptualise citizenship and multiculturalism as part of citizenship education.

    This thesis focuses on the connections and disconnections between how citizenship and multiculturalism are framed in curriculum policy and children's understanding of these concepts.
    In particular it shows that a disconnect exists between the way in which adults and children who were interviewed conceptualised and implemented citizenship. From the adults' perspective, the primary conceptualisation of citizenship was an under-theorised, and arguably a superficial engagement with 'Active Citizenship'. The children involved in this research indicated disinterest and disempowerment toward this version of active citizenship presented by the teachers.

    With regards to multiculturalism, there was more cohesion between the curriculum policy orientation toward liberalism and the children’s liberal and plural conceptualisations of diversity. Within these generalised themes, there were distinctions in the way curriculum policy, Principals, teachers and children conceptualised and implemented citizenship and multiculturalism due to the specific socio-cultural context in each jurisdiction.

    Whilst conceptualisations of citizenship and multiculturalism did emerge, there was a recognition amongst the children interviewed that they did not possess an adequate range of concepts, definitions and language to discuss citizenship and multiculturalism in the global era. In order to explore a range of concepts describing active citizenship and multiculturalism in the global era, a working model has been developed (grounded in the literature reviewed and data analysed) that considers various orientations toward active citizenship and multiculturalism.
    Date of AwardJul 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Queen's University Belfast
    SupervisorLesley Emerson (Supervisor)

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