Citizenship, the 'Self' and the 'Other': Perspectives of citizenship educators regarding citizenship, with a focus on religious and cultural difference

Malik Ajani

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

216 Downloads (Pure)


In recent decades, we have seen a resurrection of debates concerning what it means to be a citizen. Developments such as transnational migrations, rising socio-economic inequalities, the “War(s) on Terror”, and political movements based on absolutist ideologies, continue to raise broader questions of justice, equality, quality of life and social cohesion. This research project aimed to study and critically examine perspectives of citizenship held by citizenship educators and the conceptions of citizenship that inform them. Because citizenship includes a number of dimensions, and given Britain’s transformation into a multicultural and multi-faith society with far-reaching implications for citizenship, this study concentrated on developing an understanding towards dealing with religious and cultural difference in the sphere of education. Additionally, qualitative interview data were collected and the q-methodology with thirty-five citizenship educators across England. The research findings revealed that citizenship educators held one of three distinct shared perspectives (SP1, SP2, and SP3) on citizenship (as well as some areas of commonality). While there were overlaps among these perspectives, broadly, SP1 gravitated towards the liberal conception of citizenship. SP2 placed great value on social-democratic citizenship and SP3 associated most strongly with multicultural citizenship. Moreover, all three viewpoints drew from features of cosmopolitan citizenship. In all, these teachers gleaned from beliefs, values and aims originating from a range of conceptions of citizenship to form their shared perspectives. That said, it was contended that these conceptions of citizenship all entailed criticisms in perceiving and dealing with contemporary realities; therefore, a strategic approach with regard to the conceptualization and pedagogy of citizenship was proposed. This thesis argued that different conceptions of citizenship as well as visions of the ‘Self’ in relation to the ‘Other’ (exclusivist, inclusivist, pluralist) should be explicitly, openly and critically examined in the cultural, political and especially in the educational institutions of society.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Ansari, Humayun, Supervisor
Award date1 Dec 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013

Cite this