Young people’s reaction to the feeling of self-inefficacy and the role of technology towards a new kind of citizenship

Thalia Magioglou
Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme de Paris, France
CURAPP, Université de Picardie (December 2008)

Beyond Current Horizons, 2008.

This document has been commissioned as part of the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families’ Beyond Current Horizons project, led by Futurelab.

Abstract

This review paper concerns the issue of citizenship as it applies to young people, especially those who have a sense of inefficacy in the political system. Starting from a normative point of view in political philosophy, concerning the meaning of democracy, citizenship is defined as a way in which people relate to and create communities, especially as active participants, in the formation of common rules that are open to revision (Castoriadis, 1987). Citizenship is also defined as a cultural and social dimension of the self. Many studies in the last ten years have underlined the absence of younger generations from the traditional channels of participation of representative democracy (ie Haste and Hogan, 2006). Based on field work with Greek young adults, (Magioglou, 2008) but also on evidence from other European (British, French) and North-American populations, this paper takes its starting point that there is a feeling of inefficacy in the pubic sphere, but that new technologies already channel in democratic or less democratic directions (Bennett, 2008). In that sense, the role of education, state, community or groups, could be to empower young people so that they may assume responsibility for their actions in the local and global community.

Key Words: citizenship, young people, technology, autonomy, community, democracy, society, politics, and philosophy.

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The Creative Dimension of Lay Thinking in the Case of the Representation of Democracy for Greek Youth

Thalia Magioglou
Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France
CURAPP, Amiens, France (December 2008)

Culture & Psychology, June 2012, 18 (2)

doi: 10.1177/1354067X08096510

Abstract

This article intends to make a contribution to the study of lay thinking on democracy and proposes a theoretical framework based on the notion of the `argumentative pole’ that I have developed in my Ph.D. dissertation (Magioglou, 2005) and will be further presented in a series of articles. It focuses on the dialogical and creative dimension of lay thinking, based in a question—answer style. Argumentative poles are a number of open questions, such as `what is good?’, or what is democracy?’, `who should act?’ and `how?’, that attract different and, at times, opposing answers. The answers present a dynamic tension between an organized and an ambivalent dimension. In this article, the presentation is focused on the contradictory and ambivalent dimension of lay thinking and draws, from a theoretical point of view, on perspectives in social and cultural psychology (Bruner, 1986; Marková, 2003; Moscovici, 1976; Valsiner & Van der Veer, 2000) that attend to language and social and cultural context. This contradictory element is related to the creative character of lay thinking as a form of social thinking: bringing together ideas that do not match according to logic or ideology, which allows new combinations and new representations of democracy to appear. I present data from the narrative analysis because it led to the notion of the `argumentative pole’. The logic of the presentation is theoretical and does not follow a linear demonstrative style. It is typical of qualitative research (Flick, 2002), where the results of the data analysis inspire a `grounded’ theory that fits the research questions (Strauss, 1987).

Key Words: ambivalent thinking, argumentative pole, democracy, dialogical epistemology, lay thinking, meaning making, societal creativity.

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Social Representations of Democracy; Ideal versus Reality: A qualitative study with young people in Greece

Thalia Magioglou

Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme, Paris, France

Hellenic Observatory, 1st Symposium, London School of Economics, 2003.

Abstract

Democracy is a major issue in the contemporary world. The collapse of the communist world and the devaluation of communist ideology, the welfare state crisis in Western democracies and the important role of globalization have an effect on the way people think about democracy. In what way do citizens experience these transformations? Abstention from elections and action through humanitarian associations are examples of a new kind of citizen mobilization. More precisely, the present project aims to investigate the following:

  • The social construction of the meaning of democracy: how do people who live in a system considered to be democratic understand democracy? What does it mean to them?
  • The ideal and the representation of the reality of democracy. Which is the political system that young people wish for, and is it different from the one they live in? Do they have an ideal of democracy that is opposed to the one that they experience?
  • The limits of what they consider as possible in the real world. Is democracy, or their ideal political system possible or impossible according to them? If the ideal democracy is seen as impossible, there is no action in order to make it happen.

Democracy has a particular importance for Greek people; it is considered to be an element that somehow belongs to the Greek culture. From early education, the importance of ancient Greece and the fact that democracy was created in Athens is emphasized repeatedly, more so than other historical periods (see Fragoudaki and Dragonas, 1997). Representative democracy as a political system was introduced in Greece very soon after national independence from the Ottoman Empire, by the beginnings of the 20th century. Democratic government of the country has since been interrupted by the civil war that followed the end of World War II, and more recently by the military junta of 1967-1974. These are both significant elements in the construction of social memory, and should weigh heavily on the social representation of democracy.

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