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date: 25 February 2024

Active Global Citizens as Adolescents and Adultslocked

Active Global Citizens as Adolescents and Adultslocked

  • Anna JarkiewiczAnna JarkiewiczDepartment of Educational Studies, University of Lodz
  •  and Mariusz GranosikMariusz GranosikDepartment of Social Pedagogy and Social Rehabilitation, University of Lodz


Defining global citizenship (GC) depends on the perspective undertaken. The academic literature on GC is divided into two theoretical approaches: normative and interpretative. The first of these can also be called the attributive approach, because it refers to specific attributes that indicate whether someone is, or is not, a global citizen. This approach emphasizes the importance of education, during the course of which appropriate skills, competencies, and attitudes characterizing a global citizen are shaped. In contrast, representatives of the interpretative approach do not concentrate on creating a list of attributes through the prism of which the concept of GC can be identified but, rather, try to recognize what meaning individuals and language users ascribe to the concept. Understanding what GC is and what meaning actors ascribe to it is crucial in this view. The adopted theoretical perspective also determines who is and who can be a (global) citizen. The education emphasized in the normative approach, and the related course of acquiring specific attributes, means that only adults are recognized as (global) citizens. Young people are only citizens in the making. Consequently, full citizenship is an exclusive social category that is acquired on reaching the age of majority. In the interpretative approach, both adolescents and adults are considered equally as citizens. This approach stands in opposition to the age-determined order and seeks to broaden analysis by breaking from a transitional life-stage paradigm that works to divide childhood from adolescence and adolescence from adulthood. In this approach, we do not become citizens but are citizens from the very beginning of our lives. Within this concept, shifting young people’s understanding of life by applying “citizenship” as an inclusive social category is necessary. Depending on what theoretical perspective is used, a diverse range of educational practices will be employed—global citizenship education (GCE). The normative approach is related to the idea of GCE and practical notions about how GC could be taught in educational institutions or learned in other settings. In the interpretive approach, the emphasis is on cooperation in creation, joint and democratic decision-making, from which no one is excluded, regardless of age, race, religion, gender, and so on. In the same way that globalization became the target of criticism, the idea of GC and GCE is generating increasingly more discussion. Some of its aspects refer to the neoliberal foundation of GC; in that context, GCE can be understood as a system of influencing individuals to adjust them to the economic expectations of contemporary markets. Also, the expansion of the GC idea to other continents forced educators to take into account the achievements of cultural anthropology and academics to conduct international comparative research. What in the normative conceptualization was considered a universal norm in light of intercultural studies began to be perceived as a neocolonial expansion of Euro-American culture. This raises a fundamental question about a better (less colonializing) variant of global education. One of many answers is critical global learning, focused on demystification of dominant global discourses, mapping local discourses to recognize their statuses, tracing individual or institutional narratives to collective “root” meta-narratives, and emancipation of those who are discriminated against or not recognized in their formal civil rights.


  • Theory and Methods

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