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Citizenship Education in Comparative Perspective: Cross-national Variation in the Effects of Family Background on Adolescents' Civic Outcomes

  • Author(s): Kim, Hyung Ryeol
  • Advisor(s): Torres, Carlos A
  • et al.

By utilizing the data from 2009 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS), this dissertation examines the extent to which countries vary in the pattern and magnitude of the discrepancy in civic outcomes among adolescents from differing family backgrounds. Among the many family background characteristics that may shape adolescents' civic outcomes, I focus on two dimensions--family socioeconomic status (SES) and immigration background. I test hypotheses on how specific country-level factors, including (1) inequality of political voice by social class, (2) between-school segregation along socioeconomic lines, and (3) exclusionary/inclusionary policies on immigrant integration, mediate cross-national variations in the pattern and magnitude of civic disparities associated with family background. The results of this study underscore the intervening roles of politics, schooling, and public policy that modify the ways that the family of origin leaves a legacy for adolescents' civic outcomes. I find that in countries where citizens share relatively equal political voice, irrespective of their socioeconomic positions, adolescents from less advantaged SES families show higher levels of civic empowerment than their similarly situated counterparts in countries where citizens at the bottom of the socioeconomic hierarchy are marginalized in politics. Countries' socioeconomic gaps in adolescents' civic outcomes are also systematically linked with degrees of between-school segregation along socioeconomic lines. While civic knowledge gaps by family socioeconomic levels are larger in countries with higher degrees of socioeconomic school segregation, the corresponding gaps in citizenship self-efficacy and school-based civic participation are less substantial in these same countries. Finally, the findings indicate that an immigrant child or immigrant offspring in countries with more inclusionary immigration policies shows higher levels of civic competence and empowerment than his similarly situated counterpart in countries with more exclusionary immigration policies. Ultimately, this dissertation claims that the tendency for privileged families and their children to take greater civic advantages can be counteracted by transforming the pattern of cleavages in societies and the ways that such cleavages are institutionalized.

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