Abstract 5- Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 2006

Social Studies Research and Practice

Volume 1, Number 2, Summer 2006



Aware, Complacent, Discouraged, Empowered: Students’ Diverse Civic Identities

Beth C. Rubin
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey


Based on a qualitative study of civic discourse in four distinct school settings, this article describes how students’ civic identities—the sense of who one is as an American citizen—are rooted in their experiences in particular schools and communities. Students’ developing civic identities vary from aware and empowered to complacent and discouraged, depending on their experiences both in and out of school. A civic education that taps into these experiences may be successful at creating a more active, engaged citizenry. This article describes a new understanding of youth civic identity and a problem-posing approach to civic education.

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About the Author(s)…

Beth C. Rubin is an assistant professor of social studies education and social and philosophical foundations of education at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. A former high school social studies teacher, she uses a sociocultural lens and an interpretive research methodology to examine issues relating to educational equity in U.S. schools with a focus on the intersection between classroom life and larger social inequalities. Her current research explores detracking in the classrooms of diverse schools, students’ experiences of school reform, and civic identity construction in various school and community contexts. Dr. Rubin’s recent publications include “There’s still not justice”; “Youth civic identity development amid distinct school and community contexts,” Teachers College Record (forthcoming), “Unpacking detracking: When progressive pedagogy meets students’ social worlds,” American Educational Research Journal, and “Critical voices in school reform: Students living through change (with E. Silva),” RoutledgeFalmer. Contact information: bcrubin@rci.rutgers.edu, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.