, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 393–409 | Cite as

Bringing Democratic Theory into Didactical Practice. Concepts of Education for Democracy Among Norwegian Pre-service Teachers

  • Kristin Gregers EriksenEmail author


Democracy is highlighted in the Norwegian school system. This article investigates how pre-service teachers in social studies understand the more theoretical concept of democracy, and in what ways they intend to operationalize it with future pupils. Three ideal types are used to locate perspectives in the data: pure liberalist, majority rule and deliberative models of democracy. The findings indicate that perceptions of democracy in the sample are most commonly associated with core aspects of liberal democracy through a general focus on elections and voting, majority rule and individual civil liberties. A striking finding is the highly apparent internalization of participation as a norm and ideal in itself. However, ideas of contents and didactical implications of participation varies among respondents. As many also display a seemingly restricted interpretation of the political sphere, this might imply a thin understanding of democratic participation. The article further points out that translating concepts from political science into pedagogical notions is not a straightforward endeavor.


Social studies Pre-service teachers Citizenship education Democracy Participation 



This study was supported by University of South Eastern Norway.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the Ethical Standards of the Institutional and/or National Research Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Culture, Religion and Social StudiesUniversity of South Eastern NorwayDrammenNorway

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