Civic understanding mediates of the effect of educational tracks on voting intentions in German schools

Wallrich, Lukas; West, Keon and Rutland, Adam. 2021. Civic understanding mediates of the effect of educational tracks on voting intentions in German schools. Citizenship, Social and Economics Education, 20(2), pp. 84-102. ISSN 2047-1734 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Across democracies, education predicts electoral participation and political interest. Here, German students on the pre-vocational and pre-academic educational tracks are compared to show how these differences emerge, and thus indicate how they can be addressed. In a Preliminary Study, a large dataset (3747 participants) revealed that there is a gap in political interest between the tracks, and that this predicts a gap in voting intentions. Study 1 (228 participants) tested three mediators of the relationship between educational tracks and voting intentions. Differences in civic understanding primarily explained the link between educational track and voting intentions. Lastly, in Study 2, 23 semi-structured interviews explored how limited civic understanding constrains political engagement among students on the pre-vocational track, indicating that a narrow understanding of power and a lack of sociological imagination are key. The finding that the gaps emerge due to differences in civic understanding, which is teachable, suggests that schools can play an effective role in addressing them. Limitations and implications are discussed.

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civic engagement, civic education, adolescence, voting intentions, youth political participation

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20 April 2021Accepted
20 May 2021Published Online
August 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

09 Jul 2021 15:33

Last Modified:

11 Aug 2021 10:30

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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