In or out? Young people's experience of citizenship and its implication for social education

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Citizenship continues to be poorly de ned in relation to the lived experience of young people. The quality and extent of a citizen’s participation in the development and decision-making processes of a community will depend on the nature and quality of that person’s membership and participation within it. The scope and capacity for effective participation is de ned by the degree to which this concept is articulated and enjoyed as part of the everyday lives of young people as Australian and global citizens. And yet there is a dissonance between the idea of active citizenship and the reality of young people’s experience of full membership and participation in Australian society. This dissonance takes place from the level of policy through to everyday life, in which many young people experience exclusion in a variety of ways, such as alienation from political decision-making, lack of social mobility, racism and other forms of prejudice. Consequently, con icting messages are sent to young people about their membership, status and the value of their participation. Young people’s mixed experiences of belonging, inclusion and participation resist conventional categorisation and suggest a need to re ect and better articulate what Australian citizenship means and how it relates to young people. Understanding how alienation, exclusion and marginalisation are experienced in the political, social, cultural and economic domains of young people’s lives provides insight to social educators seeking to understand and engage young people in thinking about citizenship in contemporary life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-32
Number of pages10
JournalThe Social Educator
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • youth citizenship
  • youth participation
  • social education
  • Teacher educator professional learning
  • teacher knowledge; critical thinking

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