Bringing the Citizen Back In: A Sociopolitical Approach to Global Citizenship Education

Living reference work entry


Global citizenship education has gained prominence in educational research in recent years, mirroring a comparable trend of expansion in education systems internationally. The vitality of the field of global citizenship education research has been marked by the use of a wide range of approaches in a variety of contexts. However, this expansion has come at the price of mounting confusion in defining key analytical terms, starting with the concept of “global citizenship.” After reviewing the challenges raised by this conceptual laxity, this chapter proposes to return to the concept of citizenship to provide solid theoretical foundations for the field. From a sociological point of view, citizenship can be defined as a relationship between a social group and a state. This relationship is based on four key constitutive elements: membership, rights, duties, and legitimate political participation. Theoretical labor on the concept of citizenship offers the triple benefits of distinguishing global citizenship education from related but distinct forms of education, facilitating the construction of a rigorous conversation on global citizenship education, and opening new avenues for research on global citizenship education. The analytical implications of bringing the concept of citizenship back in are then illustrated in the cases of the UNESCO, OECD, and Oxfam frameworks for global citizenship education. A sociopolitical approach to citizenship also highlights the importance of specific social processes and struggles in shaping the contours of a global form of citizenship.


Global citizenship Global state Rights Duties Membership Participation Cosmopolitanism Political education 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for International Research on Education SystemsVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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