Participation and democratic citizenship – teaching and learning in the knowledge society – shaping and acting in lifecourses

Participation and democratic citizenship

Participation is understood as a bottom-up and top-down process of sharing, involvement, and co-determination in all areas of society and is thus directly connected with the emancipation of the members of a society. Education presupposes a pedagogy of participation which encourages learners to develop the competences necessary for empowering them to democratically take part in concrete situations and contexts. In this light, educational research on participation plays an active role in analysing and counteracting social inequalities and their negative effects on participatory opportunities. At the same time it is crucial to study and further develop the social and political structures and procedures that support such opportunities.

Teaching and learning in the knowledge society

In this context, the focus is on the search for and analysis of innovative approaches to teaching and learning as concerns the development and employment of knowledge and competences during one’s entire lifecourse against the background of contemporary social transformation processes. In this respect, primary significance is inhered in, on the one hand, the learning continuum comprising formal, non-formal and informal learning, and, on the other hand, the spectrum of explicit and implicit knowledge dynamics. What counts as knowledge nowadays? How is this construct socially and culturally shaped and which actors contribute to its form? How are contemporary teaching-learning relationships organized? Which competency concepts – also those which are ideologically charged – do pedagogues work with in theory and practice today? What relevance, meaning, and effects do different educational settings have with regard to the conveyance and acquisition of knowledge and competences?

Shaping and acting in lifecourses

The structural differentiation of the social lifecourse as well as individualisation, pluralisation and liquefaction of lifecourses are deemed to be the main characteristics of the so called “second modernity”. From an educational perspective, it is explored how it becomes possible or even impossible for people – under the conditions that apply to them and in different phases or circumstances of their life – to autonomously design their life and successfully cope with risks in the tension field between structures and scopes of action. There are at least two aspects that are structurally connected with the process of shaping one’s life. For one, there is the internationalization of education and qualification systems, including their contents, requirement profiles, and economic, social, and cultural challenges. Moreover, there are the concomitants and consequences of the changing relationships between the (social) state and its citizens.