Centre for Applied Research in Education

Adolescents' experiences with democracy and collective decision-making in everyday life


Developing adolescents’ attitudes towards democracy is widely seen as an important goal of formal schooling. In the past twenty years, significant scholarly attention has focused on the specific goals that should be set for democratic and citizenship education on the one hand, and on the results obtained at student level on the other. In particular, the importance of fostering a democratic attitude and political and social engagement has been emphasized (e.g. Eurydice, 2012; Schulz, Ainley, Fraillon, Kerr, & Losito, 2010; Veugelers, 2009; Citizenship Advisory Group, 1998).

This research has provided us with insights into the importance of schools’ roles concerning the socialization of adolescents; however, many questions remain unanswered. For example, what are the differences in adolescents’ experiences with citizenship and democracy in formal education compared to other everyday life situations, such as in associational life and contact with peers and parents, and how do the experiences differ depending on the adolescents’ backgrounds? With this study, we aim to gain insight into the possibilities that groups of adolescents encounter for making collective decisions and making their voices heard in educational and other social contexts. With our focus on the experiences of adolescents in relation to these crucial aspects of democratic citizenship, we want to shed light on the scope for adolescents to develop positive attitudes towards democracy.

Reference Nieuwelink, H., Dekker, P., Geijsel, F., & ten Dam, G. (2016). Adolescents' experiences with democracy and collective decision-making in everyday life. In P. Thijssen, J. Siongers, J. Van Laer, J. Haers, & S. Mels (Eds.), Political engagement of the young in Europe: youth in the crucible (pp. 174-198). (Routledge studies in governance and public policy; Vol. 23). Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
Published by  Centre for Applied Research in Education 1 January 2016

Publication date

Jan 2016


Paul Dekker
Femke Geijsel
Geert ten Dam


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