University of Oulu

Student agency for democratic culture in schools : a thematic analysis of reference framework of competences for democratic culture

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Author: Öztürk, Mehmet1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Pages: 68
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : M. Öztürk, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Kauppi, Veli-Mikko
Lehtomäki, Elina


Neoliberal education paradigm consists of theories such as human capital theory and social capital theory. The aim of neoliberal education paradigm is to increase the effectiveness of education systems. Effective education systems are expected to integrate students to the work force to create a prosperous society with a more opportunities for work and in life for the citizens. Schooling practices such as classrooms, subjects, curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment are structured based on this paradigm. Decisionmakers are more influential on these practices than students. In that context, neoliberal education paradigm limits the democratic practices in education and ignores promoting democratic culture in schools.

Creating democratic culture in schools and education requires a student-centered approach. The Council of Europe published “the reference framework of competences for democratic culture” as the core of the “free to speak, safe to learn — democratic schools for all” campaign in 2018. The framework aims to increase the students’ competences so that they can deal with complex social issues in Europe, such as populism and extremism, within democracy. The framework offers a student-centered approach to schooling.

The aim of this study is to analyze how the framework define student agency in relation to creating democratic culture in schools for Europe. The research questions for the analysis are “How does the framework define student agency in relation to democratic culture in schools?” and “How does the framework connect student agency and school context?”. The framework is analyzed by using thematic analysis. The themes that I have developed in my analysis are: democratic environment in schools; conventional approaches to schooling; teachers teaching the competences; students as democratic agents. The research paradigm relies on poststructuralism and critical pedagogy.

The framework adapts a student-centered approach and aims to create a space for students to practice their agency in all aspects of schooling. Students are expected to be autonomous individuals who can function in a democracy. However, some practices are under the influence of neoliberal education paradigm. Democratic culture is to be promoted by questioning and changing the neoliberal schooling practices and the methods to teach democracy. Schooling practices is to be inclusive to create a more robust democratic platform for every stakeholder of the school community to practice democracy.

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Copyright information: © Mehmet Öztürk, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.