Rights and obligations in civic education: A content analysis of the national standards for civics and government

Marti Hope Gonzales, Eric Riedel, Patricia G. Avery, John L. Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

A quantitative content analysis of the National Standards for Civics and Government revealed that concepts associated with traditional liberalism—citizens’ rights and freedoms—far outnumber concepts associated with classical republicanism or communitarianism (e.g., civic virtue, the reciprocal relation between citizens’ rights and their responsibilities to the public good). Moreover, this focus on rights and freedoms to the relative exclusion of duties and obligations may be at odds with a more collectivistic value orientation held by many members of ethnic and racial minority groups. Consistent with previous studies of civics texts, our analysis indicates that the concept of political participation plays a very small role in the National Civics Standards. Finally, the “subtext” of the National Civics Standards does little by way of reflecting the contributions of women and minorities to public life. Implications for civic instruction in increasingly heterogeneous public school classrooms are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-128
Number of pages20
JournalTheory and Research in Social Education
Volume29
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001

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