Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The development of children's political competence in a primary school : a quest
Author: Bosse Chitty, R. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5362 1046
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This research explores how children recount and account for their developing political competence at primary school. To access participants’ experience and perceptions of political participation and agency and the structures and practices within which they operate, I designed a post-structurally informed ethnographic study for a large junior school in the South West of England. The result was a range of qualitative and participative data gathering methods which emphasised the importance and value of children’s voices and testimony: interviews, observations, diaries, analytical discussions and ethnographic field notes. The resulting data comprise a collection of participant accounts and interpretations of living and learning in school. In contrast to my research approach, my findings identify a construction of the child as deficient, incompetent and untrustworthy, destabilising children’s emergent confidence as political beings and severely limiting the effectiveness of educational initiatives to engage them in active political participation. As a result, forms of political participation and self-expression are muted: children are encouraged to develop a conservative, self-preserving form of agency hidden from view and often characterised by self-doubt and self-suppression, counter to curricular expectations of political participation in school and community life. However, using Foucauldian theoretical tools, I argue that some children’s responses to the pressure of the school’s normalising structures and practices creatively build an effective, but subaltern, political competence, allowing children to exercise agency in strategic conformity and resistance. Being unrecognised, though, outside the surveillance of the curriculum and its enforcers, this learning is not readily available for teachers and the school to engage with and nurture. This presents both a missed opportunity for primary education and a threat to the stability and sustainability of children’s credible political agency. Empowering children requires seeing them as politically capable and competent, rather than lesser adults, deficient and lacking in citizenship competence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: political participation ; political competence ; children ; primary school ; citizenship