Between State and Civil Society: European Contexts for Education

In Kevin McDonough & Walter Feinberg (eds.), Citizenship and Education in Liberal-Democratic Societies: Teaching for Cosmopolitan Values and Collective Identities. Oxford University Press (2003)
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Joseph Dunne’s essay begins by examining the ways in which schooling in modern liberal–democratic societies tend to function as the agent of cultural homogenization and alienation, and thus block liberal–democratic efforts to offer meaningful recognition of local cultures and to promote the skills and dispositions required for participatory democratic citizenship. The danger here, Dunne points out, is that when the homogenizing elements of modern schooling become dominant, they might serve to encourage an ‘insouciant cosmopolitanism that may fail to meet people’s needs for identity ’. The chapter concludes by reflecting on some possible educational responses that might offer some hopeful ways of addressing such dismal extremes. In particular, he is interested in the educational possibilities offered by a reconfiguration of national identities and state institutions in the emerging European Community in the context of national, cultural, and religious strife that currently besets Northern Ireland. Thus, like Waldron, Dunne sees local cultural identities – be they national, religious, or cultural – as complexly related to, but potentially compatible with, cosmopolitan historical forces.



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