Deliberative children in democracy : classrooms, schools and streets

  • Kei Nishiyama

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The central topic of this thesis is children’s participation in democracy. The thesis
    problematises the pervasive understanding of children conceptualised as “future”
    citizens, and redefines children’s democratic potential from the perspective of
    deliberative democracy.
    The thesis shows that the existing literature on children’s democratic participation relies
    on a narrow conception of an adult-initiated and forum-based participation and pays only
    a limited attention to children’s participation happening outside the forum. This thesis
    offers a critical expansion of this view by focusing on children’s deliberative activities in
    various other spaces including classrooms, schools, and streets. Although these spaces
    have generally been considered as non-deliberative or non-participatory spaces, the recent
    innovations taking place in these spaces (e.g. new deliberative curriculum, new form of
    teenage protests) invite us to re-evaluate their democratic potential. The thesis offers one
    such evaluation by using interpretive research methods and the “deliberative systems”
    framework. It explores the ways in which children engage in deliberative activities in
    classrooms, schools, and streets.
    Empirically, the thesis draws on a variety of case studies from Japan, including the cases
    of classroom deliberation (Philosophy for Children) as practiced in two private schools
    in Japan, various activities of deliberation taking place in and beyond schools (The Future
    Talk, Ari to Pla), and the contemporary case of teenage protests (T-ns SOWL). By
    mapping and analysing children’s different activities in these spaces, the thesis reveals
    the crucial role children play in facilitating inclusion in public space, triggering
    deliberation across society, and creating a democratic community in their lives. On the
    basis of the in-depth analysis of various case studies, the thesis suggests redefining and
    understanding children as deliberators in deliberative systems. The thesis concludes by
    providing empirically-grounded normative insights and recommendations about how
    deliberative democracy, children’s democratic participation, and democratic education
    can and should be designed and practiced in contemporary societies
    Date of Award2018
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Canberra
    SupervisorJohn Dryzek (Supervisor) & M. Selen Ayirtman Ercan (Supervisor)

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