Children and national identity : how children conceptualise identity : a comparison of case studies from Romania and England
The PhD critically examines the question of national identity in a comparative context, analysing case studies from the North West of Romania and the North East of England. It explores the interplay between diverse identities acted out within a range of spatial contexts, including: regional/national, urban/rural and West European/East European, but also within social and cultural dimensions. Another aspect I investigated was the way educational policy is addressing issues of national identity in educational sites with reference to the inter-relationship between theoretical perspectives, from ethnic studies to post-colonialism, policies, including multiculturalism and antiracism and practice. Following this line of inquiry, I have become familiarised with various aspects of British policymaking processes public institutions. I have recognised the absence of similar policies and theoretical perspectives in Romania. I conducted interviews with more than 100 children, within three schools (two in Romania and one in the North East of England). I used case studies as the main research method, carrying out semi-structured individual and group interviewing to collect data. The analysis of the data yielded a variety of information regarding the conceptualisation of national identity in the two countries, from which similarities and differences emerged. In both England and Romania, children imagine their national community in terms of tangible characteristics, such as language and territory. Only a limited number of students see their respective nation in essentialist or exclusivist terms. While the Romanian students had a rich and elaborate language to talk about national identity and exhibited high level of patriotism, the students from England had a limited vocabulary in talking about the same issue. In both cases, the 'other' was a significant factor in engendering a coherent identity: for the English students this was quite often represented in social terms, while for Romanian it was more focused on national and 'racial' differences. In light of the above, the thesis wishes to inform the debate around the development of national identity in childhood and the teaching of Citizenship Education in both countries, advocating the need for an informed exploration of national identity as part of pluralist process of education informed by critical multiculturalism.