Negotiating spaces for young students as informed and active citizenry: Discourses on schooling and individual’s aspirations in contemporary Cambodia
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Pheaktra Pich
Young people in Cambodia are faced with multiple uncertainties including how to exercise their rights as active citizens in a self-acclaimed democratic state. They are living in unfavourable socio-political contexts for civic participation (that is, active participation negatively connotes politics synonymously as arrests, risks and death) as well as a discouraging cultural backdrop (for instance, age and knowledge hierarchy). In addition, any discussions of politics-related issues as well as on government’s policy and performance are often viewed too political and are rarely expressed in public and on school campus. This study is set to contribute both to the practices of active citizenship in Cambodia in particular and to the current state of practices of active citizenship in the field of youth and citizenship in general. To put it in crude terms, this study aims to understand the practice of citizenship in an ‘authoritarian society’. Built upon the foci and questions of our time, this thesis aims to provide a thorough understanding of active citizenship spaces in schools for young Cambodians through civics education (Moral-Civics Education in Cambodia), which has a great implication for citizenship practices in a wider social context. Empirical data were collected through the mixed-methods design, including student questionnaire, semi-structured interviews with teachers who were currently teaching Citizenship Education in grades 10, 11 and 12, and the students in these grades at the time of data collection. The data were processed via Statistical Packages for Social Sciences and NVivo software, then analysed and discussed through Bourdieu’s theoretical lenses of shadow capital, institutional habitus, illusio and doxa. Understandably, young Cambodian students have been shaped significantly by the socio-cultural limitations on their citizenship aspirations, given the introduction of citizenship education, the facade of content delivery, the limited citizenship spaces on school campus. These are understood as the imposed limitation on the accumulation of different of capitals. However, there is an enlightened aspect of education, in which a unique form of Cambodian citizenship practices emerges despite various forms of restraints. As the above-mentioned, this study has implicated the important roles of citizenship education, albeit in its weak form, and historical, socio-cultural imperatives in shaping young people’s citizenship aspirations.
KeywordsYouth Citizenship; Active Citizenship; Youth Studies; Citizenship Education Curriculum; Citizenship Aspirations
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