From Student to Citizen: The Role of Post-Primary Schooling in Political Socialisation

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Grainne MCKEEVER, UCD, Ireland
This paper discusses the role of post primary schooling in the political socialization of young citizens. It explores the potential of this formative experience for young people as they begin to develop their understanding of what it means to be a "good" citizen and how they visualize themselves fulfilling that role in the future. In a country such as Ireland where the education system has historically been dominated by religious orders, and no national policy on civic development exists; this paper questions the role of the post primary school as a place for civic education, seeking to understand the experiences which contribute to effective preparation for active engagement in civil society post schooling. The study is based on introduction of a new course for senior cycle in Irish post-primary schools called Politics & Society. It profiles eight case study schools, four pairs of twin schools with only one of the "twins" receiving the treatment of the new civics course. By interviewing all eight principals and surveying all final year students (over 1000) it assess how the school experience has impacted these students intentions for political participation and civic engagement. By examining the relationship between variables such as political knowledge, political efficacy, social capital, gender, socio economic background, ethnicity and religion, this study reveals the educational inputs which inform active citizenship outputs and presents an account of the tools required by young citizens for political participation and civci engagement post schooling.