Learning to be citizens: Promoting social cohesion and security in times of uncertainty

An international workshop as part of the ERC-sponsored YouCitizen Project

Dates: 26th & 27th Nov 2015

Venue: University of Sheffield

Convenors: Dr Daniel Hammett (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Prof Lynn Staeheli (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Dr David (Sandy) Marshall (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Abstract: We are living in a time of insecurity:  economic insecurity as a result of the global recession; political instability arising from challenges to existing state structures; social insecurity as communities undergo change and social contracts are destabilised. Layered on to these fears are concerns about belonging, social cohesion, and, in the case of post-conflict societies, strategies for reconciliation. In settings around the world, there are debates over who does and does not belong to the nation, and  tensions are evident as pedagogical practices are used to consolidate nations at the same time that they aim to promote tolerance, social cohesion, social justice and responsibility.  Increasingly, the rhetoric, policies and practices surrounding citizenship and belonging are discursively linked to yearnings for security on multiple levels: from national security through to issues of personal security and safety.  Security in these senses is not only physical, but also emotional, economic and social. For those who are positioned on the margins of society, tensions between justice, inclusion, and security can result in contradictory ‘lessons’ about citizenship.

This workshop sets out to examine the ways in which discourses of citizenship in formal and informal education are intertwined with discourses of social cohesion, social justice, and security. Both implicitly and explicitly, the notion of security (from the national to the individual level) interacts with other discourses in ways that may lead to unexpected – and perhaps paradoxical – manifestations of citizenship.  A key set of questions emerge as to the characteristics of citizens who can act to promote justice, cohesion, and security, the values they enact, and the visions of democratic life that are promoted.  Specifically:

  • What are the roles of discipline, habit, self-regulation, and autonomy in enabling the practices and acts of citizenship?
  • What is the relationship between citizenship and security? Is it possible to imagine and enact citizenship in the context of multifaceted insecurities?
  • Can values of cosmopolitanism and global citizenship be used to create socially just and cohesive nations in the context of insecurity?
  • What ways do young people learn to act as citizens when they confront injustice and lack of tolerance in their everyday lives?
  • What role can memory play in  fostering social justice, social cohesion, and the security of citizenship?

To engage with these questions this workshop brings together an inter-disciplinary range of scholars to explore the learning of citizenship, in both formal and informal arenas, and how ideas of justice, cohesion and tolerance link citizenship and security in times of division and insecurity.

Format: Two day event with each invited participant presenting a paper linked to the themes. These papers would be collated with a view to either a journal special issue or an edited book.

List of Participants:

Daniel Hammett, University of Sheffield

Suzan Ilcan, University of Waterloo

Alex Jeffrey, University of Cambridge

Kirsi Kallio, University of Tampere

Dina Kiwan, American University of Beirut 

David J. Marshall, Durham University

Naomi Maynard, Durham University

Sarah Mills, Loughborough University

Deborah Phillips, University of Oxford

Lynn Staeheli, Durham University

Hugh Starkey, University College London

Shannon Sullivan, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Lorraine van Blerk, University of Dundee



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