Childhood and Philosophy 15:1-20 (2019)

Simone Thornton
University of Queensland
Gilbert Burgh
University of Queensland
According to Val Plumwood (1995), liberal-democracy is an authoritarian political system that protects privilege but fails to protect nature. A major obstacle, she says, is radical inequality, which has become increasingly far-reaching under liberal-democracy; an indicator of ‘the capacity of its privileged groups to distribute social goods upwards and to create rigidities which hinder the democratic correctiveness of social institutions’ (p. 134). This cautionary tale has repercussions for education, especially civics and citizenship education. To address this, we explore the potential of what Gerard Delanty calls ‘cultural citizenship’ as an alternative to the disciplinary citizenship that permeates Western liberal discourse. Cultural citizenship emphasises citizenship as communication and continual learning processes, rejecting the idea of citizenship as a fixed set of cultural ideals, norms or values defined and enforced by liberal society’s legal, political and cultural institutions, including education and ‘citizenship training’. However, we contend that a critical first step, essential to democratic correctiveness, is to clear away obstacles created by the privileging of a dominant epistemic position. We conclude that Plumwood’s philosophy alongside John Dewey’s work on democracy and education provide a theoretical framework for effective democratic inquiry aimed towards interconnective, deliberative practice and corrective methodology for epistemic accountability.
Keywords ecosocial citizenship  cultural citizenship  epistemic accountability  democratic correctiveness  epistemic violence
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