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Title: 'Activated', 'responsibilised' or 'empowered'? : competing concepts of active citizenship in the context of government-funded programmes of active citizenship learning in the third sector in England
Author: Recknagel, Gabriele
ISNI:       0000 0004 5347 623X
Awarding Body: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Current Institution: Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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Citizenship education for adults has become increasingly marginalised within lifelong learning despite widespread concerns over declining political and civic participation. While governments in many countries have been – and still are – summoning citizens into being ‘active’, critics have argued that these policies primarily shift public responsibilities towards private individuals rather than ‘empower’ citizens as political subjects. When New Labour funded two pilot programmes of active citizenship learning in England between 2004 and 2010, involving amongst others a local third sector organisation (a CVS) in their delivery, this provided a unique opportunity for a situated social policy case study. Informed by theoretical approaches to the contested concepts of 'citizenship' and 'empowerment', this research analysed the contrasting views and experiences of third sector practitioners, adult learners and policy-makers within the wider social policy context. It was found that the CVS had not only 'activated' and 'responsibilised' but also ‘empowered’ active citizens. The research was conducted as a qualitative organisational case study involving - and triangulating - interviews, participant observation and document analysis. An in-depth analysis of pedagogic approaches revealed how a learner-centred, community-based and experiential approach contributed to citizenship outcomes. Numerous individual learner case studies illustrate these processes in a nuanced and differentiated manner, highlighting the various factors which promoted inclusive and empowering learning outcomes, and their limitations. Outcomes were more effective when learning had been linked to participation practice, and even 'invited [governance] spaces' had provided valuable learning for active citizens who subsequently pursued their own individual and collective interests, and challenged the status quo. Through analysing organisational processes using insider-practitioner knowledge, the research contributed to current debates about the shifting relationship between the third sector and the state. It also suggests that reflectivity should be practised by voluntary and community organisations more routinely to avoid the trappings of managerialism and 'projectification' associated with state-funding.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral