The construction of political identities: young Europeans' deliberation on 'the public good'

Ross, Alistair (2021) The construction of political identities: young Europeans' deliberation on 'the public good'. In: Educational Research for Social Justice: Evidence and practice from the UK. Education Science, Evidence and the Public Good, 1 (1). Springer, Cham, Switzerland, pp. 249-270. ISBN 9783030625726


Analysing young people’s willingness, their ability to participate in political action, and the discourses that they employ to do this, are clearly issues of the ‘public good’. This chapter examines how many young Europeans appear to be constructing identities that include a globalised and/or European dimension, that coalesces around issues of political, social and environmental rights. This response to the changing political culture in Europe, the increased cultural diversity of the continent, and the growth of social media have led to a new generation that is differently mobilised for political activity, and which has a particular characterisation of what might constitute ‘the public good’. The work described in this chapter developed from the work on young English identities described by Maylor in the preceding chapter, and focuses on the methodological issues of using less structured deliberative discussion group techniques, in a study of 29 countries in continental Europe. The young Europeans’ discussions of the values of diversity, and how for many Europe was defined in terms of a culture of human rights values, have particular implications for educational practice in terms of political and civic awareness and the competencies needed for active participation, and for understanding how young people construct ‘the public good’.

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