Identities, citizenship, communities

Summative report: Identity, communities and citizenship

Professor Helen Haste

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TOP KEYWORDS: community, society, technology, communication, IT

Community and CMC: the virtual absence of online communal being-ness

David Studdert

ABSTRACT: This paper proposes to examine the close relationship between the social sciences and offline interests (government, business, media, and all general non-CMC communities) as a key to investigating...
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how the internet came to be what it is today. It argues that potential online educational benefits, as well as more general benefits from projects of social cohesion and community building, are being limited by the manner in which the internet is conceived and constructed; that for projects and benefits to be realised and to be potentially available to governments the net needs to be conceived in a different manner.

This paper seeks to understand why the discursive formation of ‘community of interest’ has come to dominate and shape the contemporary internet. It argues that this domination limits the possibilities of CMC by giving privileges to certain relationships, principally uni-polar forms, and thus hinders the potential of the internet for educational and community building processes.

Finally, it suggest ways in which a differently conceived CMC might encourage the internet’s rebirth as a genuine social and public space.
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TOP KEYWORDS: technology, IT, communication, community, society

National identities: are they declining?

Denis Sindic

ABSTRACT: The main question addressed in this review is whether national identities are likely to remain an important feature of our societies in the coming decades. Some have argued that...
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national identities are declining, due to increasing globalisation, the growth of supra-national organisations such as EU, the increasing multicultural nature of our societies, and, in multi-national countries like the UK, the presence of separatist movements with substantial political support. However, the review of current evidence and current practices (as well as their likely evolution) suggests the following points: national identities (including British identity) are likely to remain important in the next decades, despite the alleged ‘fragmenting’ effects of globalisation and advances in technologies of communication; European integration and the possible development of a European identity are unlikely to lead to the disappearance of existing national identities, especially in the UK; The impact of strong sub-state national identities, devolution and separatist movements in the UK remain uncertain, but the scenario of an upcoming break-up of Britain does not seem the most likely; national identity is not necessarily incompatible with, or threatened by, multiculturalism, though it may be increasingly perceived as such in the UK. This review will also address the question of the consequences of national identities in term of their relationship with others, arguing that this impact depends on how the boundaries and content of national identities are defined, and that such definitions are open to argument and political contestation. The review will conclude with some reflections on the possible role of national identities in future educational practices.
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TOP KEYWORDS: identity, globalisation, Europe, multiculturalism

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

Thalia Magioglou

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...
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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.
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TOP KEYWORDS: citizenship, young people, technology, autonomy, community, democracy, society, politics, philosophy

Identity and disability: a review of the current state and developing trends

Ruth Gwernan-Jones

ABSTRACT: Currently, disability is primarily viewed from a medical model that sees it as a tragedy resulting from impairment within the disabled person. The social model of disability views disability...
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as the barriers that society creates for people with impairment. The social model has been the ‘battle cry’ of the Disability Movement, challenging the medical model, and encouraging a trend toward active, vocal disabled people, many of whom perceive their disability as a part of a positive personal and social identity, and as many as half of whom, given the choice, would prefer to keep their disability rather than have it ‘cured’. This paper looks at the wide range of identity issues that occur as result of a wide range of possible impairments, social and political changes relating to identity and disability, and issues around identity and disability that arise from medical and technological advancement. However whenever possible it is seeking to represent the perspective of disabled people rather than a stereotypical, non-disabled perspective, or the dominant professional perspective of disability.

The review of identity and disability draws attention to certain possibilities for the future of education, including the need for change in the structure of education, toward one that addresses disability inclusively, the need to direct focus onto the ways that education disables children and young people, the importance of listening to the voice of disabled pupils/students, and the need for developing conceptual models in education that encompass complexity, diversity and fluidity in identity and disability.
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TOP KEYWORDS: disability, identity, society, education, young people

Reworking the web, reworking the world: how web 2.0 is changing our society

Justin Reich

ABSTRACT: Web 2.0 refers to a suite of technologies that have dramatically lowered the interaction costs of two-way communication over the World Wide Web, which has democratized the production of...
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information and applications across the internet. To sum up the Web 2.0 phenomena in a sentence: lower communication costs have led to opportunities for more inclusive, collaborative, democratic online participation. As the costs of communicating online decreased, more people, in terms of million, decided that it was worth their while to participate in these communication networks. These people did not just communicate more, they started communicating in qualitatively different ways than before. As these millions found new media for expression and collaboration, they opened possibilities for a more inclusive, open, democratic society, possibilities which may or may not be realized.

There is no doubt that this democratization, these contributions from many millions of web participants, has produced a series of profound social, political and economic changes that this paper will seek to document. The changes inspired by the democratization of the web, however, will not of necessity lead to a more equitable distribution of power and resources in our society. The future of the web will depend upon the degree to which this blossoming of online participation will allow ordinary citizens and consumers to have greater voice and influence in shaping society and the degree to which powerful political and commercial interests can co-opt and constrain the surge of online enthusiasm in the support of the established hierarchy.
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TOP KEYWORDS: Internet, identity, politics, economics, education, democracy, society, community, citizenship, communication, networks

Virtual disruptions: traditional and new media’s challenges to heteronormativity in education

Aubry D Threlkeld

ABSTRACT: Schools generally reinforce heteronormative discourses to the degree that queer representations surface primarily through traditional mass media, and new cybermedia sources. In order to inspect possible future trends...
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in the field of education, this paper reviews the most current research available on the role of media in shaping the perceptions of sexuality by youth. It focuses primarily on representations of queerness that challenge heteronormativity in changing traditional media sources such as television and film, and in emerging media such as avatars in online virtual worlds and social networking websites.

These challenges, as virtual disruptions, open up discourse and offer opportunities to engage in critical pedagogy. In conclusion, I outline how teachers can begin to use critical pedagogy to leverage their knowledge of virtual disruptions in media in order to challenge heteronormativity in schools.
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TOP KEYWORDS: sexuality, education, future, media, society, gender, networking, virtual worlds

Popular representations of the working class: contested identities and social change

David Weltman

ABSTRACT: This review critically explores media representations of working class people and working class lives. Drawing on various studies, as well as other examples from different forms of media, it...
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argues firstly that there is prevalence of derogatory images which undermine the emergence of valued independent working class identities. However, attention is also given to some - albeit exceptional - more contradictory representations which may indicate more progressive lines of development. One particular common stereotype which is highlighted is that of working class people’s consciousness lacking potential for development except at the price of losing their working-classness. This, it is argued, is encouraged by the more general commonsense division between workers and thinkers, one which in fact goes against rich traditions of working class self-education. After discussing the educational implications of these observations, the review shifts to consider a recently intensified tendency in the media for ‘defending’, specifically, the white working class as an oppressed ethnic group. Different examples of this phenomenon are discussed in the light of alternative perspectives based on historical insights into the possibility for transcending divisions within the working class. In this way the emphasis on white working class particularism is seen to be in danger of reintroducing assumptions of working class stasis and of crippling efforts – including in educational settings - to tackle racist viewpoints.

In light of these arguments future prospects for how media technology frames working class identities, including the role of internet discussion forums, is explored. A historically informed perspective indicates the likelihood of social representations reflecting and refracting factors associated with a changing economic and political balance of forces, especially in a period of deepening global economic recession. It is in this latter sphere too, it is claimed, rather than in the technological setting itself, that one finds the fundamental factors shaping the challenge to stereotypes propagated through internet forum technologies.
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TOP KEYWORDS: class, media, technology, identity, ethnicity, education, future

The civil society project

Olga Ververi

ABSTRACT: In this paper I examine the CRELL-Network research reports on active citizenship and civic competence. I argue that the specific institution promotes a particular view for citizenship aiming at...
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a citizenship identity which cannot enable individuals to see themselves as initiators within democracy but as followers within the so-called civil society. In the same vein lies the idea of the virtual civil society while civic e-communication resulting from e-citizenship seems to become a key skill in the citizenship agenda of Europe in the future. I claim that both actual and virtual civil society cannot bring about any changes as they promise but they seem to contribute to the preservation of the status quo. My suggestion is that learners should be encouraged to exert criticism using a different discourse aiming at the evolution of democracy. I have named the specific approach as “radical citizenship” in opposition to the active citizenship term which seems to have dominated the citizenship (education) discourse.
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TOP KEYWORDS: citizenship, society, Europe, neo-liberalism

New technology and habits of mind

Eva Vass

ABSTRACT: “When I was a child, I was sometimes allowed, as a special treat, to look at my grandmother's stereopticon slides. You looked at two pictures side by side through...
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a pair of glasses and they blended into one three-dimensional image of a peculiar world, often long-skirted women wearing floral hats and holding bicycles. Today, I realize that riding a bicycle was the mark of a confident and modern woman liberated from the strictures of Victorian society. And now, through the lens of my grandmother's mind, I think I can see a picture of that distant pre-scientific world.” (Flynn, 2009, p87)

The centrality of technology in human life has manifested itself throughout history in all cultures and civilisations. This paper examines the role of new technology in restructuring processes of thinking and knowing, and its impact on social practices of knowledge building. It highlights the transformative force of new technology, necessitating changes in our ‘habits of mind’ to manage the increasing complexity of the contemporary information landscape. Also, it shows that convergent new technology remediates processes of shared knowledge building, creating virtual, collaborative, continuously evolving arenas of activity. Thus, new media contexts afford new forms of social collectivity in virtual space, requiring a fresh understanding of collective action and creation, the ability to belong to different social groups that may not meet face-to-face, the skills to artfully reconnect thought and practice in a simulated world, and the confidence to establish new relations to authority.
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TOP KEYWORDS: technology, learning, habits, mind, participation, interaction

Identity, community and selfhood: understanding the self in relation to contemporary youth cultures

Sarah Riley

ABSTRACT: This paper discusses some of the key factors that shape young people’s identity in relation to contemporary youth cultures. It describes a tightening of relationships between identity, leisure and...
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consumption that have interacted with developments in communication technologies and an understanding of the self as being dynamically (re)produced in interaction, constructed from the range of subject positions that may be contradictory or only partially formed. These identities may be personal or social, with the latter being associated with neo-tribal theory. This context has opened up the possibility for young people to engage in a playful pick-and-mix approach to identity as they move through a kaleidoscope of temporary, fluid and multiple subjectivities that often celebrate hedonism, sociality and sovereignty over one’s own existence. Multiplicity and sovereignty, however, involve complex interactions between contradictory values and are associated with a variety of stressors and inequalities that are strengthened through neo-liberal rhetoric of risk, responsibility and individualism. Furthermore, both neo-liberalism and neo-tribalism provide a context in which political and social participation shift to the local, informal and personal. For future education to provide environments where schools are fun, interesting, relevant and safe, a personalised portfolio model of education is recommended, where educators act as facilitators for the successful management of the self as a project; provide alternative discourses to neo-liberalism by working as ‘community enablers’; and act as protective stewards, shielding young people from some of the more aggressive aspects of technology, surveillance and commercialisation.
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TOP KEYWORDS: young people, culture, neo-liberalism, consumption, leisure, politics, participation, society, individualism

Future issues in socio-technical change for UK citizenship: the importance of ‘place’

Nick Nash

ABSTRACT: This paper emphasises the importance of place in relation to identity, community and citizenship. In considering future technological advances it is argued that these concepts will continue to be...
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understood in relation to place.

Identification with place is an integral dimension of selfhood and evidence for a positive relationship civic engagement is discussed. In the future, people will continue to define themselves and their communities in relation to place, although identities will be increasingly grounded in virtual spaces created by online community networks. Therefore, citizenship initiatives should be geared towards understanding the complexity of relationships to place and people’s place-based meanings. In addition, the growth of online social networks will enrich and extend offline social networks rather than replace them. However, communities will be increasingly based on shared interests rather than shared locations, and communication devices will become more geared towards personal, rather than spatial, networks. This will create problems for policymakers and it will be necessary to adopt more flexible initiatives. Finally, it is proposed that citizenship will eventually become more fragmented and dislocated from the nation-state. Policymakers should gear interventions towards multiple forms of citizenship spaces, identities and practices, both online and offline.
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TOP KEYWORDS: place, community, citizenship, Internet, technology, communication, individualism

Re-imagining the future: young people’s construction of identities through digital storytelling

Kyoko Murakami

ABSTRACT: This review paper explores a relationship between young people’s identity construction and digital storytelling in the learning environment, especially those who are disaffected and at risk of being socially...
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excluded. In particular, I will focus on the young people’s engagement in learning despite various efforts to tackle youth disaffection, disengagement in education and training and lack of aspiration for the future. As a theoretical framework, I draw on in particular a sociocultural and cultural anthropological view of culture and mind (Holland and Cole 1995) and “history in person” (Holland and Lave 2000). The review links the current context of youth disengagement and disaffection to the increasingly popular practice of digital storytelling (technology-mediated production of stories). Lastly, it would consider implications for the future of education, in particular with the role of the teacher in the 21st century and the future of education as a technology-mediated learning environment.
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TOP KEYWORDS: young people, disaffection, identity, storytelling, knowledge, economics, teaching, engagement

Integrating the internet into women’s lives

Louise Madden

ABSTRACT: This paper explores how the internet is taken up and used by women in the everyday; how it enters their lives, and how it is integrated into other projects...
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and areas of life. Internet use is treated as an activity that needs to be viewed in context, considering the rich social world that goes on around it, to understand how the internet emerges and is made meaningful through a set of embodied everyday practices. Women have historically been somewhat excluded from the internet, and the form of this exclusion has proved difficult to understand using traditional methods. This paper reviews a set of research and literature that attempts to contextualise use of these technologies to tease out some of what is particular to women's experience of the internet.

This paper is located primarily within strand 2. (i) 'How much is change and how much is more of the same.' It has some elements of relevance to (ii) 'The technological 'gap'', in that it illuminates some gender differences on access to the internet, and a little relevance to (iii) 'How do young people use personal technology? What purposes does it serve?', in that it addresses these issues with regard to women, and there will likely be some commonalities.
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TOP KEYWORDS: women, Internet, technology, communication, gender

Digital natives and ostrich tactics? The possible implications of labelling young people as digital experts

Ellen Helsper

ABSTRACT: The notion of a generation uniquely at home in a digital environment – the Digital Natives – is increasingly being challenged. Expertise and experience are just as important as...
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generation in explaining activities that are considered indicative of digital nativeness. This means that people advocating the death of schools due to an irreconcilable gap between educators and students are wrong. Nevertheless, cross-generational understanding is hampered by an insistence on identifying all young people as digital natives, ignoring evidence to the contrary.

The findings presented in this paper suggest the erroneous identification of a whole generation as digital natives might lead to an overestimation of young people’s skills in dealing with the risks and negative experiences associated with the internet. Younger generations are less likely to seek help than older generations and more likely to ignore the risks they do encounter without taking action to prevent these from happening again – here labelled the ‘ostrich tactic’. If young people can shed the ‘Digital Native’ identity they might be more likely to seek help when they need it.

Another possible problem is an offline/online separation as regards risks and coping strategies in older generations: young people see online risks as part of everyday life just like offline risks. A continuation of this separation in the minds of adults could lead to Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants who speak different languages. This paper argues that future scenarios might be different, a disconnect between educators and students is not inevitable.
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TOP KEYWORDS: young people, digital natives, Internet, risk, digital environment, generations

Communities and citizenship: paths for engagement?

Heike Doering

ABSTRACT: This paper deals with current issues in the constitution and maintenance of communities and the effect on notions of citizenship and public engagement. This review looks at a number...
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of studies concerned with the building of communities and the effects of structural changes on the maintenance of communities. It uses the decline of the nation as dominant scale for collective identification as the starting point for two parallel trends: the increased importance of local and everyday practices in the formation of communities and the development of cosmopolitan/global identities and citizenships. Examples are drawn from research into regeneration of former industrial regions as well as studies on youth engagement in rural and urban settings. Notions of politics and engagement need to be reconsidered to include small-scale, everyday political engagement which is based on residence rather than a status of citizenship conferred by the state. Technology can enhance and facilitate this process of becoming a local citizen. Digital inclusion can foster social inclusion. Accessibility to technology is therefore a major concern, not only in terms of affordability but also in terms of skills, confidence and trust. The ability to negotiate the offline world of changing boundaries and places for engagement translates into the ability to do so online: social and cultural capital becomes digital capital.
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TOP KEYWORDS: community, citizenship, engagement, participation, place, accessibility, identity, inclusion, young people, politics