Teachers' conceptions of citizenship in New Zealand social studies education | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 6, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1751-1917
  • E-ISSN: 1751-1925


Although 'citizenship' has long been a feature of New Zealand social studies curricula, there has been little New Zealand research about the meanings teachers attach to the concept. On the basis of a number of focus group interviews, we examine conceptions of citizenship held by primary and secondary social studies teachers. The discussions reveal that many teachers framed citizenship as 'belonging' – a heuristic that was sufficiently malleable and open to embrace pluralism, and different scales of citizenry, while attempting to maintain a sense of cohesiveness. While 'citizenship as belonging' may hold appeal, the absence of critical debate about contested aspects of citizenship within the teachers' discussions is problematic. We argue that the New Zealand social studies teaching community vitally and urgently requires exposure to debates about 'citizenship' and citizenship education.


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