Living Reference Work Entry

Politics, Citizenship and Rights

Volume 7 of the series Geographies of Children and Young People pp 1-12

Date: Latest Version

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

  • Alex JeffreyAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Cambridge University Email author 
  • , Lynn A. StaeheliAffiliated withDepartment of Geography, Durham University


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