Becoming Political

Comparative Perspectives on Citizenship Education

By Carole L. Hahn

Subjects: Social Studies Education
Series: SUNY series, Theory, Research, and Practice in Social Education
Paperback : 9780791437483, 304 pages, April 1998
Hardcover : 9780791437476, 304 pages, April 1998

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Table of contents


Participating Teachers and Facilitating Administrators

Chapter 1 Studying Civic Education: Setting the Stage

Chapter 2 Becoming Political: Adolescent Political Attitudes and Behaviors

Chapter 3 Gender and Political Attitudes

Chapter 4 Freedom of Expression and Civic Tolerance

Chapter 5 Democratic Inquiry and Discourse: Classroom Climates in Cross-National Perspective

Chapter 6 Teaching Democracy

Appendix: Political Context




A comparative study of citizenship education and adolescent political attitudes in five western democracies.


This book sheds light on the question: Under what conditions do democratic attitudes and values take root in youth? Using a comparative perspective, Becoming Political describes alternative forms of education for democracy and points to consequences of various alternatives in diverse settings. This study of civic education and adolescent political attitudes contains rich descriptive information from interviews with students and teachers and classroom observations in England, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. Such qualitative information gathered over the past decade complements findings from surveys administered to students ages fifteen through nineteen in fifty schools in the five countries.

Chapters focus on civic education in the five countries, adolescent political attitudes and behaviors, gender and political attitudes, support for free expression for diverse views, and classroom climate and the investigation of controversial public policy issues. An appendix describes the varied political contexts in which youth in the five democracies are being politically socialized. The book will be of use to readers interested in social studies education, comparative education, and youth political socialization, as well as education for democracy.

Carole L. Hahn is Professor of Educational Studies, Emory University and is a past president of the National Council for the Social Studies.


"The citizenship education/political socialization literature is rife with speculation about what adolescents think and believe politically, but very short on actual data. This work is a major addition to our knowledge in these areas. " — John J. Cogan, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

"Even among established Western democratic societies, there is considerable variation in the way programs of citizenship education work. There are many curriculum projects at the present time that are trying to establish programs for democratic citizenship, especially in countries newly striving toward democracy. These projects tend to be understudied. The book's usefulness is enhanced because of its methodology; it has been difficult to find illustrations of blends of qualitative and quantitative information. The author should be commended for her survey construction; instead of just picking up others' work in an uncritical way, Hahn has appropriately looked at the validity and reliability of these measures. An important, useful book. " — Judith Torney-Purta, University of Maryland