Youth perspectives on citizenship discourses: Navigating exclusionary public sphere rhetoric against the backdrop of ‘inclusive’ citizenship education
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- PhD theses (HF-IGIS) 
OriginalversjonYouth perspectives on citizenship discourses: Navigating exclusionary public sphere rhetoric against the backdrop of ‘inclusive’ citizenship education by Kerenina Kezaride Dansholm, Stavanger : University of Stavanger, 2023 (PhD thesis UiS, no. 698)
This dissertation is an exploration of youth perceptions of citizenship and attendant discourses. The research is situated within the Norwegian context where the language offers two important words for citizen: ‘statsborger’ or legal citizen and ‘medborger’ or co-citizen. The dissertation takes the inclusive discourse of citizenship education in schools as an implicit foundational starting point, while explicitly exploring the exclusionary rhetoric of othering visible in public debate. The empirical data consists of group interviews with 44 students in three 10th grade classes in three Norwegian schools. The first article offers an analysis of how participating students discuss membership dimensions of citizenship, drawing on the interplay of discourse with the material to express varying degrees of inclusive and exclusionary stances. The findings show that students in these 10th grade classes consistently appeal to material or sensory tokens to justify belonging or otherness, whether understood as Norwegian-ness or legal citizenship. Paying special attention to the role of the material (herein covering physical appearance, clothing, and audible language) for justifying or challenging belonging allows racially and religiously prejudiced citizenship discourse to be more clearly highlighted. The findings in this article point to a need to set aside discomfort and embarrassment regarding frank discussions on material aspects embedded in racialised and exclusionary citizenship discourses in order to aid youth in deconstructing racialised and religious prejudice. The second article is a case study (from one school) of student discussions of rights and responsibilities. Student participants spoke of rights as belonging to the majority or to the minoritized Other. In line with earlier research findings, students referenced human rights as national rights or values, while making explicit connections between majority rights and minority responsibilities and implicit references to the responsibility of the majority to protect minority rights. This analysis indicates a need in citizenship education and its adjacent field of human rights education (HRE) for both legal literacy and a deeper discussion of human rights. This can, for example, be achieved through a focus on the local context so that youth may better understand minority barriers to rights, as well as the role of the majority in issues of social justice. The third article focuses on the two Norwegian words for citizen: statsborger and medborger, translated in this dissertation as legal citizen and co-citizen. The findings are analysed through the lens of subject positions and capabilities, with the results showing that students appropriate categories and storylines within public debate in order to frame different citizen subject positions as either one of ‘us’ or ‘them’. Dichotomies and overlaps are also visible in descriptions of citizen capabilities as either legal, ideal, or societal. Legal capabilities, understood as the juridically defined rights of majority and minority legal citizens and co-citizens, are less clear to students and are at times obscured by societal capabilities, or the rhetoric within public debate— such as anti-immigrant narratives—which may hinder minority capabilities. Additionally, ideal capabilities, or democratic values, often stand in conflict with the exclusionary rhetoric of public debate. The main contribution which these research findings offer is that a citizenship lens allows for a nuanced exploration of citizen subject positions and attendant capabilities within a democracy, including exploration of the challenges which minority citizens may face. Being explicit about the who (subject position), what (categories), and how (storylines) of democratic participation will allow students a more critical understanding of citizenship (both legal citizenship and co-citizenship) than the predominantly values-centred discussions which are often a staple of citizenship education. The fourth article was co-authored together with my co-interviewers, as in the article, we explore the role of (in)visible difference, affect, and resistance in discussions on citizenship—both for the students and for us as researchers. In the group discussions, we found that positionality played a central role, in framing understandings of citizenship, belonging, and discrimination. As white researchers who also experience (in)visible differences, we reflect on the students’ explicit discussions of difference, as well as their reactions to our implicit and explicitly acknowledged difference. Additional reflections are put forth on leveraging invisible difference to create space for an inclusive understanding of citizenship, resisting ideas of ethno-nationalism. This discussion demonstrates the potential which experiences with (in)visible difference have for contributing to more inclusive understandings of citizenship—both legal citizenship and co-citizenship. Further potential implications are that acknowledgement of invisible difference by white majority educators may help to open space for an understanding of difference as a citizenship resource. In this capstone or extended summary, I explore in detail the context for the study, map the relevant literature, discuss theory and methodology in depth, as well as ruminate on the contributions of the dissertation to the field. Some of the main overall findings echo those of prior research, such as the need for a vocabulary which facilitates explicit engagement with citizenship issues, and concretely tackles the lived reality of both minority and majority citizenship. Specifically, by approaching citizenship education through the lens of the concept, the multidimensionality of citizenship can be explored while the discourses which youth use to make sense of the concept become visible. This dissertation highlights both youth understandings as well as misunderstandings, and problematises not only exclusionary discourses which frame racialised minorities in Europe as Other, but also lack of clarity on (minority) citizen rights—which are vital for the realisation of an inclusive and just society. Moreover, difference in all its varied forms must not be shied away from but must be addressed directly, positively, and as the resource which it is.
Består avPaper 1: Dansholm, K.K. (2022) Material Interpolations: Youth engagement with inclusive and exclusionary citizenship discourses. Journal of Social Sceince Education, 21(1), 77-98. DOI: 10.11576/jsse-3514
Paper 2: Dansholm, K.K. (2022) Majority rights and minority responsibilities : young people's negotiations with human rights. Human Rights Education Review, 4(3). DOI: 10.7577/hrer.3968
Paper 3: Dansholm, K.K. (2022) Students' understanding of legal citizenship and co-citizenship concepts: Subject positions and capabilities. Nordic Journal of Comparative and International Education, 6(2). DOI: 10.7577/njcie.4747
Paper 4: Dansholm, K.K., Dickstein, J., Stokmo, H.D. (2023) Visible and invisible difference: Negotiating citizenship, affect, and resistance. Accepted subject to minor revisions in Critical Education.
UtgiverUniversity of Stavanger, Norway
SeriePhD thesis UiS;