Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study: Second literature review. Citizenship education: the political science perspective

Paul Whiteley

01 April 2005

Research report available to download from DFE

This document presents the second annual literature review arising from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study, which will last for a total of eight years from 2001 to 2009. The review builds on the literature review conducted one year after the start of the study. It draws heavily on research in political science which examines the relationship between education and citizenship engagement. It is framed in terms of a series of alternative or rival models, which can be used to explain why people engage in voluntary activities, and more specifically why they participate in politics. The mechanisms by which education influences participation differ between these models. So it is important to cast the net wide and consider a variety of alternative mechanism and models if the links between the citizenship core curriculum and voluntary activity are to be fully understood.

This review has the advantage of being able to test some of these links using existing longitudinal study data which is now available. This makes it possible to begin the process of evaluating the impact of citizenship education on participation and also on the civic culture of Britain. Of course, a final definitive and comprehensive study of these links will have to wait until the longitudinal surveys are complete. But at this point we are in a position to obtain initial estimates of the effects of citizenship education in schools. As the evidence below shows the impacts are highly significant and positive. We begin with a conceptual clarification of some of these issues before embarking on a review of the theoretical models of participation involving education in subsequent sections.