- Becoming a democratic citizen: A study among adolescents in different educational tracks
G.T.M. ten Dam
- Award date
- 23 June 2016
- Number of pages
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Research Institute of Child Development and Education (RICDE)
A vibrant democracy requires that adolescents are positively oriented toward democracy and that all young people have equal opportunities to participate in democracy. This dissertation reports longitudinal qualitative research on the views and experiences with democracy of adolescents from pre-academic and pre-vocational educational tracks.
This study shows that, with age, youth develop positive views towards democracy and democratic decision-making. Regarding issues in everyday life, the adolescents are well able to explain their views and take various democratic principles into account. However, they have less ability to do so with regard to democratic issues in the political domain. Politics continues to be an abstract domain, especially for pre-vocational students.
Contrary to expectations, the adolescents, particularly pre-academic students, do not develop more complex views as they grow older. Instead, they start to focus more strongly on only one democratic principle (e.g., majority rule). An explanation for this development is adolescents’ increased familiarity with decision-making in politics, which, in their perspective, is done by a simple majority. This image then colonizes their initially rich views on issues in everyday life.
Adolescents’ experiences with democracy at school differed by educational track. Students in the pre-academic track regularly discuss social and political issues, whereas those in the pre-vocational track rarely talk about such issues in the classroom. Because adolescents in the pre-academic track also more frequently experience democracy in other social contexts, schools seem to reinforce these inequalities.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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