This paper examines the complex relationship between the state, civil society and education through comparative research with young people in France and the UK. Survey data derived from two cohorts of school students in South Wales and Lyon reveal strong differences in their levels of civic and political participation. While our Welsh students have higher levels of ‘civic participation’, as measured in terms of charitable work and volunteering, our French students have far higher levels of what might be considered ‘political engagement’, defined in terms of campaigning and demonstrating. We argue that these differences can be accounted for by the different cultural repertoires and priorities of citizenship education which themselves reflect the contrasting historical configurations of education, the state and civil society in these two countries.
Published: March 2020