Left to figure it out for themselves: the formation of a hybrid or synthetic civic identity among undergraduate students at a university in the UK

Arts 201
Wednesday 13 March 2019 (13:00-14:00)
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  • BLS Research Seminar 
  • Piers von Berg, Lecturer in Law, (University of Plymouth) 

Postgraduate students and academic staff are welcome to attend.


Many universities in the UK have recently declared that they cultivate citizenship among their students. However, very little is known about what undergraduates are experiencing and learning about citizenship. The author conducted an exploratory piece of insider research at a Law School at a UK university. The study used a sociological approach to citizenship as a lived experience to uncover what meaning students lent to the idea of citizenship. The researcher employed qualitative, phenomenological and participatory methodologies to bring out the students’ experiences.

The students’ accounts of citizenship were synthetic in being drawn from life experiences shaped by their ethnicity, class and gender. University had a strong influence primarily through interactions with different peers. A culture of performativity and neoliberal values strongly influenced their concepts of citizenship education. The end impression was of a synthetic citizenship comprised of a hybrid form of open-minded norms and an instrumental approach towards studies.

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