The debate between those who argue that the civics curriculum is most effective in promoting civic competences, and those who claim that political socialization is primarily the result of informal learning processes in and outside school, has dominated much of the literature on the educational determinants of civic competences. As a result the research has tended to focus on individual- and school-level effects.
The debate between those who argue that the civics curriculum is most effective in promoting civic competences, and those who claim that political socialization is primarily the result of informal learning processes in and outside school, has dominated much of the literature on the educational determinants of civic competences. As a result the research has tended to focus on individual- and school-level effects. Due to the unpopularity of the formal schooling perspective and the rare use of cross-national comparative approaches, scholars have by and large ignored the possible influence of national-level characteristics of education systems. Another omission in the field of political socialization is the absence of studies examining disparities of civic competences. Such disparities, particularly if they coincide with social and ethnic divisions and are manifested territorially as ‘no go’ areas, are likely to be as detrimental to social cohesion as low aggregate levels of civic competences. Moreover, little is known about the extent to which the effects of compulsory education carry over into adulthood. Neither do we understand how post-compulsory education contributes to adult civic competences. Finally, we need to know much more about how aggregate levels and distributions of adult skills influence adult civic competences.
Little is known about the extent to which the effects of compulsory education carry over into adulthood
This project addresses these omissions with the following research questions:
- How do characteristics of compulsory schooling systems influence levels and disparities of civic competences of youngsters in addition to individual- and school-level effects?
- How do characteristics of compulsory and post-compulsory education systems and aggregate levels and distributions of adult skills influence levels and disparities of adult civic competences?
We will be exploring these questions using a range of data sources with information on education systems and individual attitudes, skills and knowledge.
What the project did
This project aimed to explore how civic values are clustered in different national and regional contexts and how education in all its aspects influences civic values and political engagement among young people. It examined whether regional varieties of civic culture can be identified in Europe and East Asia and whether these varieties correspond to varieties of capitalism, welfare regimes and regimes of social cohesion. It further sought to assess the impact of institutional features of education systems, such as age of first selection and the degree of separation between tracks, on civic outcomes such as political engagement and democratic values. The project explored these questions both with studies focussing on the UK and with comparative studies examining European countries or the whole world. Data sources used included national longitudinal surveys, such as the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) and Next Steps, and international cross-sectional ones, such as the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), the European Social Survey (ESS) and the World Values Survey (WVS). The project addressed topical policies such as the Fundamental British Values initiative launched by the previous coalition government.
An important finding of two of the articles published (Janmaat et al 2014; Hoskins and Janmaat 2016) is that the allocation of young people to academic and vocational tracks increases inequalities of political engagement. While the academic track enhances the participation of the already engaged still further, the vocational track does not foster the engagement of students who tend to be less involved in the first place. Another article found that this inequality enhancing effect of track also applies to a much wider set of values. Focussing on fundamental British values (FBVs), this paper (Janmaat 2018) showed that track was in fact the only educational condition that left a profound mark on support for such values among young adults. A further paper (Hoskins et al 2017) found that citizenship education (CE) has a greater effect on children of disadvantaged backgrounds than on those of middle class backgrounds in terms of fostering political engagement. CE thus has inequality mitigating effects and can be said to compensate for the deficit of engagement experienced by children of low SES backgrounds. The forthcoming book (Hoskins and Janmaat 2019) explores these issues in greater detail and argues that schools have an important role to play in fostering the political engagement of children of disadvantaged backgrounds. They can do so by ensuring equal access to relevant learning sources and by providing learning opportunities from which children of low SES backgrounds benefit more than middle class children. Another published paper explored variations across Europe in different dimensions of civic competences (Hoskins et al 2014) and found salient differences between Northern and Southern Europe in the values supported.
In terms of impact, Janmaat was interviewed by the Economist about ways in which schools can promote political engagement. His paper on FBVs was featured in Times Higher Education. The project’s findings further informed his response to the call for evidence of the House of Lords Select Committee on Citizenship Education and Civic Engagement, the final report of which quoted this response extensively. The publications from the project further led to invitations for keynote speeches at various conferences in Europe and to invitations to take part in an OECD expert meeting and to join the advisory board relating to OECD Global Competences report. The spin-off of the project for Hoskins were two externally funded research projects focussing on citizenship education and its effect on civic values, one commissioned by UNICEF and the other by the Bosch Foundation.
Hoskins, B. and Janmaat, J.G. (forthcoming). Does Education Increase Democratic Inequality? Palgrave.
Janmaat, J. G. (2018). ‘Educational Influences on Young People’s Support for Fundamental British Values.’ British Educational Research Journal, 44 (2), 251-73.
Hoskins, B., Janmaat, J. G. and Melis, G. (2017). ‘Tackling Inequalities in Political Socialisation: A Systematic Analysis of Access to and Mitigation effects of Learning Citizenship at School.’ Social Science Research, 68 (November), 88-101.
Hoskins, B., Janmaat, J.G., Han, C., and Muijs, D. (2016). ‘Inequalities in the Education System and the Reproduction of Socio-Economic Disparities in Voting in England, Denmark and Germany.’ Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, Vol 46, No 1, pp. 69-92.
Hoskins, B. and Janmaat, J.G. (2016).‘Educational Trajectories and Inequalities of Political Engagement among Adolescents in England.’ Social Science Research, 56, 73-89.
Hoskins, B., Saisana, M. and Villalba, C. M. H. (2015). ‘Civic Competence of Youth in Europe: Measuring Cross National Variation Through the Creation of a Composite Indicator.’ Social Indicators Research, Vol. 123, No. 2, 431-57.
Janmaat, J.G., Mostafa, T., and Hoskins, B. (2014). ‘Widening the Participation Gap: The Effect of Educational Track on Reported Voting in England.’ Journal of Adolescence, 37, 473-482.