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DEMOCRACY WITHOUT DIALOGUE: A CIVIC CURRICULUM OF "THE MIDDLE CLASS PROMISE" FOR CITIZENS OF THE CORPORATION

by Wegwert, Joseph Charles

Abstract (Summary)
Using ethnographic methods and drawing on critical theoretical frameworks with some postmodernism insights, this project focuses on social studies classrooms and the larger context of the culture of a suburban, Midwestern high school. The central research question asks how the formal and informal curriculums of school and social studies classrooms serve to frame, communicate, socialize and perform the discursive, symbolic, ritualized, and conceptual constructs of citizenship. The data reviewed suggests the civic curriculum at Covington Woods High School (a pseudonym) aligns with and supports the imperatives of neo-liberal capitalism and the essential roles of middle-class professionals within corporatist institutions. The data in this study surfaced from discussions, interviews and observations regarding the Pledge of Allegiance ritual, the larger civic lessons found in the social studies classrooms and common areas of CWHS, and themes that emerged from district and building meetings. These data pointed to a broader curriculum of the middle class promise - a curriculum with a distinctly middle class notion of compliance that acknowledges choice, promotes self-interest, reifies privilege, frames common sense, and offers success. The curriculum of compliance embedded in this middle class promise offered success through an ideologically proscribed pedagogy where social studies teachers taught - and modeled - the importance of navigating the middle in a corporatized institution where rituals and discourses of distance shaped students' encounters with the epistemological and ontological meanings and implications of citizenship in the American polity. The corporatized curriculum of the middle class promise offers students lessons in citizenship in which citizens were revealed as individual agents operating from the same neo-liberal assumptions that frame the role of middle class professionals in the corporate culture and powerfully integrates the lessons of corporate life and civic life, offering compliance and passivity as normalized - and inevitable - avenues toward success. The civic curriculum at CWHS is not a curriculum of citizenship in any democratic sense of the word; rather, it is a curriculum of membership: a curriculum steeped in the lessons of privilege, entitlement, moderation, and exclusion that define middle-class identity in American culture. The civic curriculum of membership communicated lessons of inclusion and exclusion that provided sanction for an institutional culture of intolerance.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Miami University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:citizenship neoliberalism curriculum social studies critical theory ritual middle class schools civic curricululum

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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