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The Council of Europe’s Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture: Hope for democracy or an allusive Utopia?

TOURBIER, MICHELLE,CRAIG (2024) The Council of Europe’s Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture: Hope for democracy or an allusive Utopia? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Democracies around the world are increasingly polarized along political and cultural lines. To address these challenges, in 2016, the Council of Europe (CoE) produced a model of twenty competences for democratic culture. In 2018, this same model became the basis of the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC). The RFCDC provides pedagogical instructions to help implement these competences. Together, I call this set of materials “the Framework”.

This thesis begins with the premise that utopia has long played an important role in the way power is maintained or resisted in democratic education. It questions the assumption that democratic culture can be cultivated instrumentally through policy- based competences without imposing power on subjects and views this assumption to be utopian. It thus excavates the potential utopian ideals at play in the Framework using ‘hidden utopias’ as a conceptual lens and method, which draws inspiration from the theories of Michèl Foucault, Ernst Bloch and Ruth Levitas.

It investigates how using ‘hidden utopias’ as a theoretical lens might facilitate a deeper understanding of the nature and purpose of the Framework, how implicit utopias might be at play, how this could be problematic and how these theories might shed light on the application of the Framework in pedagogical contexts. The contribution of this thesis is to make visible potential utopias at the heart of the Framework. It suggests that making implicit utopias visible in democratic education can help educators and learners engage with these discourses in critical and innovative ways and think beyond them.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:utopia, utopianism, hidden utopias, Council of Europe, RFCDC, democratic education, Foucault. Levitas, Bloch
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2024
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Jan 2024 11:15

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