Worries and Possibilities in Active Citizenship
In this article, we maintain that the conception of active citizenship in education in Europe has
come to imply a specific formation of citizens as active, both in society and in creating one’s
own identity. Initially, the ambition of active citizenship was to promote young people’s
empowerment and autonomy, as well as democracy and human rights in and through
education. As previous research has shown, a neo-liberal colouring of the concept has
gradually taken place. In this colouring, the individual risks becoming fenced in by increased
marketization, particular ways of understanding the individual in relation to the collective,
and understanding rights and responsibilities (cf. Kymlicka & Norman, 2000; Olssen, 2009).
The article is based on a re-analysis of three empirical contributions from three different
Swedish educational contexts, which focused respectively on policy (Olson, 2008), teacher
identity (Irisdotter, 2006) and identity creation among minority students (Wigg, 2008). What
we term a neo-liberal colouring of active citizenship in Swedish education is only briefly
sketched in the introduction, as it is further elaborated on in the first of these contexts.