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Download e-book Making Rights Claims: A Practice of Democratic Citizenship

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The values transmitted by citizenship education are not dogmatic principles laid down once and for all. A living culture calls for the creation of new values, although they should all be judged by the criterion of respect for others and for human dignity. Thus, with regard to the laws and values accepted by an entire social group, citizenship education can in no way be a catalogue of set questions and answers. Citizenship education should be the forum which gives rise to and nurtures a genuine culture of discussion.

Whatever the problem posed, such as the ongoing development of humanity or the stability of the rule of law, an exchange of ideas, notions, judgements and individual opinions is necessary. Even among young children, dialogue of this kind is possible.

Rethinking Sexual Citizenship

Citizenship education needs also to be taught in ways that bring out the ever-constant link between knowledge and practice. The interaction between concepts and action gradually produces the ability to think in terms of values and to refer to them. Values are universal when they concern human rights: for example, the values of liberty, dignity, solidarity and tolerance.

As they are firmly anchored and promoted in different cultures they can also concern a region of the world or even a special country, nation or religion. All should be made the subject of discussion and reflection and be studied in each course of citizenship education. In other words, citizenship education is based on knowledge, practice and values that constantly interact. To be precise, let us say that awareness of the necessary reference to values gradually gives rise to practices and action which are themselves related to knowledge and skills about human rights and the institutions that regulate life in society.

Pupils benefiting in this way from citizenship education learn step by step that citizenship unfolds and develops in a society imbued with values and in the human community as a whole. The large worldwide population flows that are a characteristic feature of the modern world mean that schools cater for children from different cultural backgrounds. This cultural heterogeneity should be regarded as an opportunity for citizenship education. In this situation, children are all required to mingle with and thus learn about and understand cultures other than their own.

Far from blurring the cultural diversity of pupils, citizenship education can bring out the value of differences while respecting and affirming the universality of human rights principles. Citizenship education is the ideal forum, since discussion on social issues can be organized so that opinions can be expressed on ways of looking at the world, in other words, on cultures. This is a new form of action to combat racism.

Karen Zivi

Racism is frequently due to the ignorance in which children are reared in respect of cultures other than that which is the majority culture of their country. The problem posed by citizenship education is how to blend together the particular and the universal, the national and the international, the individual and society. The difficulty can be solved by integrating human rights education in this new subject, civics education. Thus, citizenship education addresses both the individual and the citizen and provides an avenue for each individual citizen to acquire an understanding of the issues of peace in the world, and the challenges of the globalisation of economic, environmental and cultural problems.

Since sustainable development of human beings and the world they live in is linked to the quality of education, the time has come to regard citizenship education as a vital part of any education system and any teaching programme. As a political system, democracy provides for:. The forms of democratic institutions, though important, are not the be-all or end-all of democracy. Source: Bisch, P.

Citizenship Education for the 21st Century What is meant by citizenship education? Taken in this sense, citizenship education is based on the distinction between: the individual as a subject of ethics and law, entitled to all the rights inherent in the human condition human rights ; and the citizen — entitled to the civil and political rights recognized by the national constitution of the country concerned. These objectives suggest four major themes for citizenship education: The relations between individuals and society: individual and collective freedoms, and rejection of any kind of discrimination.

The relations between citizens and the government: what is involved in democracy and the organization of the state. The relations between the citizen and democratic life.

Interpreting the Political Theory in the Practice of Human Rights | SpringerLink

The responsibility of the individual and the citizen in the international community. Democratic culture and citizenship education If there is one idea inherent in civics education, because it concerns politics and institutions, it is the idea of democracy. A new way of teaching citizenship education The introduction and continuance in schools of a democratic culture forbid dogmatism in any kind of civics education. Global dimensions in citizenship education The large worldwide population flows that are a characteristic feature of the modern world mean that schools cater for children from different cultural backgrounds.

His work encourages us to think seriously about why political theorists — liberals and cosmopolitans, champions and critics alike — continue to search for ethical certainty despite the apparent futility and costs of such a project. And his argument raises questions about what is involved in shifting the object of our desire while offering us suggestions for what we might desire in its place.

Karen Zivi

Unfortunately, we often desire objects that are actually harmful to our ability to live the good life they promise. The desire for certainty that Hoover finds in much of contemporary rights theorizing seems to fit that description perfectly. We come to rights theory seeking a response to injustice in the world, a way to rectify the horrific conditions that undermine human flourishing. We seek a world without the kind of pain and suffering that abounds.

Making Democracy Count

Contemporary rights theory, in turn, promises us universally applicable, overwhelmingly persuasive, and irrefutable justifications for demanding the institution and protection of human rights. This certainty promises to be so compelling that only the irrational or evil could deny or dispute it. It promises to provide a perspective that will direct institutions like the state to enact laws, set policies, and adjudicate conflicts in ways that guarantee human rights protections and make human flourishing possible.

It thus promises not only to end human rights conflict but also to provide a respite from political struggle and political responsibility. Once we are armed with our ethical certainty, that is, we can be freed from the responsibility to engage in difficult decision-making and to accept and address the often tragic and inevitable consequences of those decisions.

This is a promise of intellectual, political, and psychic peace. A lovely promise for sure, but a fantastical and dangerous one, according to Hoover. As he deftly reveals, ethical certainty requires that we obscure, ignore, displace, and discredit that which does not fit a particular perspective.


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Moreover, it justifies or obscures the fact that this is an act of coercive power by hiding behind the mantle of universal truth. In the end, the desire for certainty — or the policies and practices that result from the discovery of supposed certainty — constrains human lives and undermines resiliency and creativity. So why hold so tight? Ethical certainty, our object of desire in this case, gives shape to who we are as individuals and as a community. It delimits our responsibilities as citizens and distinguishes them from those of the state.

It tells us what to expect of others, what to expect of ourselves, and what to expect of life itself. And it tells us that we are good people, caring individuals who can know and do the right thing. Detaching ourselves from an object like ethical certainty in the context of human rights conflicts requires, then, that we fundamentally alter our sense of self, our relationship to others, and our understanding of our place in the world. This will be radically destabilizing and likely demoralizing.

It is not surprising, then, that the desire for ethical certainty remains so strong. But we do not have to stay in a relationship with cruel objects. He is not calling for a revolutionary overthrow of a system in which rights makes sense.

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He is, instead, calling for an honest recognition of what rights can do in the face of uncertainty and instability. A situated, pragmatic, agonistic ethos, he tells us, acknowledges that there is no overarching value or definitive hierarchy of rights to ensure that we are responding in the correct manner or being the good people we hope to be. And it demands that we judge and act nonetheless, taking responsibility for the costs that may result. This will involve us in practices of self-reflection. It is the philosophical community that needs to catch up.

Here Hoover does the difficult work of identifying our new object of desire and of offering some sense of what it would mean to attach ourselves to it. But I think such goals also require us to be very clear about the difficulties involved in shifting our desires and the hard work involved in making good on the cluster of promises such a desire encompasses. I want to make it very explicit. We need to know not only that we are going to be engaged in decision-making that has remainders and is never acceptable to all, but also that this is going to involve us in ongoing, at times tedious, often coalitional, usually multi-pronged efforts to achieve political change.

And we need to be prepared that the struggle here is not just with others or taking place in the public realm alone. The struggle is also an internal, deeply personal one that occurs at the level of our psyche, our subjectivity. My point and it is one in an early stage of development is that we need to cultivate a new work ethic, or rather an ethos of rights theory and practice as ongoing work. I agree, then, with Hoover, that human rights theory has much to gain from the rich ethnographies of human rights practice that our sociology and anthropology colleagues offer.

Rather than abstracting from the real world to articulate overarching principles, their research makes visible the fact that human rights campaigns involve decades of commitment and engagement, concerted efforts materializing in a variety of coalitional forms and arenas, and compromises, contradictions, and disappointments, all of which contribute, in ways often unforeseen or unexpected, to human rights victories as well as defeats. To these detailed accounts of the hard work done by activists, theorists can contribute an understanding of how change occurs.

The intelligibility of the new — whether a policy, law, social norm, or identity category — is the effect of actions and utterances repeated over time in multiple locations by a host of different political actors. Marriage equality and the attendant transformations in the meanings of nationhood, community, and spousedom, for example, are the result of more than five decades of efforts occurring in local religious communities, the legal arena, legislatures, daily life, and other arenas.