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László Kinyó: Hungarian and international research on citizenship competence

The study synthesizes the aims, perspectives, methodology and major results of Hungarian and international research on citizenship competence in recent decades. It analyses the possibilities of psychic and behavioural change taking place in the individual, tracing these back to the effects of the social environment surrounding the students. The study addresses the questions of (1) sensitive periods in the process of becoming an active citizen, (2) changes in the field and direction of activity, (3) the possibilities of civic education for achieving permanent changes in different psychic domains and (4) the effects of civic education on citizenship competence manifested in real life. The perception of citizenship competence as developing throughout the individual`s lifetime (Rossi, 2001) is beginning to attract attention in addition to traditional approaches that emphasise the importance of childhood development and the role of family socialisation. Changes in the field and direction of activity are mainly investigated in the dimension of political interest and participation (Sherrod, Flanagan and Youniss, 2002; Whyte, 1999). Evidence suggests that apathetic youth might be mobilized quickly and easily, moreover, they tend to take part in social reform movements if they feel that their own interests are threatened (Youniss, Bales, Christmas-Best, Diversi, McLaughlin and Silbereisen, 2002). The exploration of relationships between institutional education and citizenship constitutes one of the most intensively studied fields of civic education research. Although findings are abundant in the literature concerning the effects school instruction on civic knowledge and citizenship behaviour, these are frequently controversial (Milligan, Moretti and Oreopoulus, 2004. Niemi and Junn, 1998; Hahn, 2001). There is no general consensus on the effect size institutional education has on student achievement regarding civic knowledge measurements (e.g. IEA Cived 1999 és ICCS 2009, NAEP 1998) and the ways this effect can be measured empirically. The effects of school instruction are considered most significant in the field of political literacy in the literature. The longer students are exposed to formal instruction, the more likely they are to acquire comprehensive political knowledge (Nie, Junn and Stehlik-Barry, 1996). Research in the last 40 years calls the attention to the positive effects of school instruction on adulthood voting propensity (e.g. Richardson and Torney-Purta, 2008). The study further articulates the expectation that an interdisciplinary approach might provide some underpinnings to the determination of the psychic structures, forms of behaviour and principles of development attached to citizenship.

MAGYAR PEDAGÓGIA 109. Number 4. 399-425. (2009)

Levelezési cím / Address for correspondence: Kinyó László, Szegedi Tudományegyetem Neveléstudományi Intézet, H–6722 Szeged, Petőfi Sándor sgt. 30–34.


Magyar Tudományos Akadémia