Learning Citizenship: Civility, Civil Society, and the Possibilities of Citizenship

  • Alex Jeffrey
  • Lynn A. Staeheli
Living reference work entry
Part of the Geographies of Children and Young People book series (GCYP, volume 7)


Learning citizenship in post-conflict settings involves the development of new forms and relationships of solidarity that link individuals and the collective in ways that are not associated with previous conflicts or divisions. In this chapter, we describe learning as a socio-temporal process through understandings of relationships and new ways of being are developed and sedimented through habits and customs. Learning, in this sense, does not refer to teaching through formal or informal education, but rather refers to a process by which perceptions and relationships are changed. Our concern in this chapter is with the ways in which young people learn new forms of citizenship, as manifested in the relationships between individuals and collectivities. Efforts to promote, or to teach, citizenship often emphasize particular forms of behavior and active participation in civil society; these behaviors are associated with civility. But in learning citizenship, normative expectations of civility and relationships in civil society are often reworked, questioned, disrupted, and challenged. As these questions and challenges are thereby raised, we can glimpse the kinds of solidarities that youth might imagine, yearn for, and seek to stabilize or to change.


Citizenship Civil society Civility Learning Teaching Pedagogy Habits Nongovernmental organizations Identity Solidarity Collectivity 


  1. Amin, A. (2004). Regions unbound: Towards a new politics of place. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 86(1), 33–44. doi:10.1111/j.0435-3684.2004.00152.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amoore, L., & Langely, P. (2004). Ambiguities of global civil society. Review of International Studies, 30, 89–110. doi:10.1017/S0260210504005844.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boyd, R. (2006). The value of civility? Urban Studies, 43(5–6), 863–878. doi:10.1080/00420980600676105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. de Tocqueville, A. (1835). De la democratie en Amerique. Paris: Gosselin.Google Scholar
  5. Dewey, J (1922/2012). Human nature and conduct. New York: Henry Holt.Google Scholar
  6. Ferguson, J. (1990). The anti-politics machine: “development”, depoliticization, and bureaucratic power in Lesotho. Cambridge: CUP Archive.Google Scholar
  7. Habermas, J. (1991). The structural transformation of the public sphere: An inquiry into a category of bourgeois society. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  8. Hammett, D., & Staeheli, L. (2011). Respect and responsibility: Teaching citizenship in South African high schools. International Journal of Educational Development, 31, 269–276. doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2010.06.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Jarausch, K., & Geyer, M. (2003). Shattered past: Reconstructing German histories. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Jeffrey, A. (2007). The geopolitical framing of localized struggles: NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Development and Change, 38, 251–274. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7660.2007.00411.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jeffrey, A. (2012). The improvised state: Sovereignty, performance and agency in Dayton Bosnia. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kaldor, M. (2003). Global civil society: An answer to war. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  13. Lumsden, S. (2013). Habit and the limits of the autonomous subject. Body and Society, 19, 58–82. doi:10.1177/1357034X12459201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McFarlane, C. (2011). Learning the city: Knowledge and translocal assemblage. Chinchester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mitchell, K. (2003). Educating the national citizen in neoliberal times: From the multicultural self to the strategic cosmopolitan. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 28, 387–403. doi:10.1111/j.0020-2754.2003.00100.x/pdf.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mouffe, C. (2005). The return of the political. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  17. Osler, A., & Starkey, H. (2005). Changing citizenship: Democracy and inclusion in education. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  18. Pasic, L. (2013). How many are we? Bosnia’s first post-war census. The Nation. Accessed 30 Oct 2013.
  19. Putnam, R. (1993). Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Pykett, J. (2010). Citizenship education and narratives of pedagogy. Citizenship Studies, 14, 621–635. doi:10.1080/13621025.2010.522345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roy, A. (2010). Poverty capital: Microfinance and the making of development. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  22. Staeheli, L., & Hammett, D. (2010). Educating the new national citizen: Education, political subjectivity, and divided societies. Citizenship Studies, 14, 667–680. doi:10.1080/13621025.2010.522353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Staeheli, L., Attoh, K., & Mitchell, D. (2013). Contested engagements: Youth and the politics of citizenship. Space and Polity, 17, 88–105. doi:10.1080/13562576.2013.780715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Staeheli, L., Marshall, D., Jeffrey, A., Nagel, C., & Hammett, D. (2014). Producing citizenship in divided societies? Pedagogy, civil society and the citizenship industry. YouCitizen Working Paper 2. Accessed 2 Sep 2014.
  25. Sullivan, S. (2001). Living across and through skins: Transactional bodies, pragmatism and feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyCambridge UniversityCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Department of GeographyDurham UniversityDurhamUK

Personalised recommendations