Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription or Fee Access

Schools and Democratic Socialization: Assessing the Impact of Different Educational Settings on Swedish 14-Year Olds’ Political Citizenship

Joakim Ekman, Pär Zetterberg

Full Text: PDF



This article investigates the role of schools in fostering political citizens – i.e. providing them with the competencies and skills needed to realize their status as political actors in a democratic society. We pay attention to three dimensions of political citizenship: internal political efficacy, political literacy, and political participation. Drawing on the Swedish part of the 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Study (ICCS), we analyze the impact of four school-related factors on the development of the political citizenship of 3,464 Swedish 14-year olds. The student information is paired with school data (a school questionnaire), in order to assess the effect of different school contexts; and we have access to official statistics (census data) which provides us with reliable information about the socioeconomic status of the students. The analysis demonstrates that there is only one school factor that seems to have a distinct impact on the development of the political citizenship of 14-year olds: the socioeconomic embeddedness of the school. As a result, the article suggests that the development of political citizenship is determined less by what goes on in the classroom and more by the composition of the students that populate a school.

Keywords: political socialization – civic education – political citizenship – school – ICCS – Sweden