Democracy faces two key threats today. The first is evident in the growth of authoritarian, right-wing, populism which is evident in a number of European countries and beyond. The second has been the undermining of democratic life by neoliberalism. Liberal democracy has aided the latter by the separationof economics from politics and the focus on the individual at the expense of the public sector and the common good. At the same time, some of the virtues of liberal democracy – the separation of powers, for example – are threatened by authoritarianism. We argue the importance of a critical engagement with current versions of democracy by drawing on a more participatory and active democratic tradition. This has significant implications for how we view citizenship and citizenship education. The dominant version of citizenship education in Scotland and the UK (possibly in Europe too) embodies a ‘minimalist’ model of citizenship through a curriculum for taking personal responsibility. This is inadequate for the challenge democracy faces. We argue the need to ground citizenship education in more radical soil, to nurture a critically engaged and active citizenry capable of challenging the democratic threats of right wing populism and neoliberal subjectivity.
- really useful knowledge
- citizenship education
- radical tradition of adult education