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Title: Students' representations of political participation : implications for citizenship education in Mexico City's secondary schools
Author: Pérez Expósito, Leonel
Awarding Body: Institute of Education (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Within a growing body of research there is a tendency towards a depoliticisation of citizenship education (CE) which seems to be replicated by different programs in school. In this thesis, however, I argue for CE that engages with a political perspective through the enhancement of students’ experiences of participation within their daily contexts, particularly the school. The argument develops from an in-depth analysis of students’ representations of political participation (PP) and a consideration of implications for CE in Mexico City’s secondary schools. Based on a mixed methodology that included qualitative work in two schools from contrasting delegaciones (municipalities) of Mexico City, and a representative survey (n=828) of third grade students from all the general secondary schools in these two areas, the thesis finds that students experience a general condition of exclusion from PP. They are largely excluded from a) their own representation of PP, b) the curricular characterisation of PP, and c) quality participation in their schools, families, and broader communities. This account coexists, however, with an ideal characterisation of PP embraced by students and teachers, which reaches its highest level in the curriculum of Civic and Ethical Formation. It turns considerably idealistic due to the lack of practical instrumentation and a strong discrepancy with participants’ representations of actual student involvement in school. Thus, the expected distance in education between real and ideal becomes nonsense. As the ideal is no longer an achievable point of reference, it loses the capacity of orienting a significant pedagogical practice. One of the main consequences of this gap is that students, teachers and principals learn the puerile and politically correct discourse about democracy and student participation. Simultaneously they are socialised into a rather authoritarian school system, where democracy is a marginal and sporadic phenomenon. In spite of this situation that reflects the current priorities of secondary schools, the thesis shows that students’ participation in school is a key factor to developing a virtuous circle of participation with the family and broader communities. For this purpose, enhancing quality political participation in school is vital. I call this the politicisation of CE. While previous works identify PP with the domain of politics, or dissolves any distinctive meaning by ambiguously interchanging the term with others like civic engagement, the thesis provides a more meaningful theoretical approach, clearly inclusive of adolescents, and specially thought to be enacted in the school. It is proposed that its performance entails the construction of a ‘school of proximal development’, the scaffold through which students’ politicity can evolve in an authentic, autonomous and efficacious way.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Curriculum ; Pedagogy and Assessment