n South African Journal of Higher Education - The limits of democratic citizenship education as initiation : cultivating risk-taking through association : leading article

Volume 29, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



Much of the contemporary literature on democratic citizenship education accentuates citizens' enactment of duties, rights and responsibilities, on the one hand, and a sense of belonging, on the other hand (Benhabib 2011; Nussbaum 1997; Yuval-Davis 2011). Inasmuch as such rights, responsibilities and conceptions of belonging - based on understandings of democratic citizenship education - are not necessarily pernicious to the discourse of education, they do seem to curb students' aspirations to become 'whatever being' (Agamben 1993). 'Whatever being' refers to whatever liberatory stance students might assume in university classrooms. this apparent minimisation of risk-taking in a university classroom vis-à-vis the cultivation of democratic citizenship education is likely to be compounded by the initiation approach to education that has been so aptly articulated by Peters (1966) and Rorty (1999), and extended more recently by Biesta (2014). It is the authors' contention that democratic citizenship education would have a more promising opportunity to be realised if it were to be unconstrained by the act of initiation. Instead, such a form of education would become more risk-orientated if the notion of initiation were to be undermined.

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