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  • Publication
    An Exploration of Irish Children’s Lived Citizenship across their Homes, Communities and Schools
    (University College Dublin. School of Education, 2022) ;
    0000-0001-9194-8240
    This study explores Irish children’s citizenship as it is lived out in their everyday lives across their homes, schools and communities. We frame this exploration in terms of lived and inclusive approaches to citizenship focusing on participation, difference and social relationships; we also take account of children’s agency and generational orders in the construction of children’s lived citizenship. In doing so we move beyond liberal rights-based models of children’s citizenship, emphasising issues of difference, solidarity and care. Given the historical exclusion of children from citizenship theory and practice, there exists a current a lack of theoretical clarity, in addition to a lacuna of research in the Irish context and in children’s home settings, as well as gaps in our understandings of the emotional and care dimensions of children’s lived citizenship. This study addresses these gaps. The study employs a mixed methodological approach to data collection and analysis. We combine quantitative secondary analysis of data originating from the national longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study, with an in-depth qualitative photovoice participatory methodology, based across six diverse case study sites, in both primary and secondary schools, working with thirty-five 9 and 13 year olds, and 15 of their teachers and/or parents. Our analysis demonstrates that children’s citizenship operates along a continuum of differently-equal citizenship, influenced by their social contexts, their family, community, peer and school relationships and practices. We argue that children occupy fluid and multiple citizen positions, ranging from less-than to differently-equal, as well as a range of positions in between. A key finding is that the home is a foundational context for citizenship learning and practising; also key is the analysis of care in understanding children’s citizenship, particularly as it highlights the relational and affective aspects of citizenship. This study challenges deficit notions of childhood, exclusionary liberal models of citizenship and future-focused, neo-liberal conceptions of children as solely citizen-workers. Rather children are repositioned as differently-equal, caring and contributing citizens in the here and now. The study notes implications for research, policy and practice concerning children and their citizenship and the centrality of their voices to processes of change.
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