Subjects for Democracy. Current Challenges and Opportunities in Democracy Education (DemoS)

The DemoS research project, which is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims to produce a comprehensive review of democracy education in Germany, both in practice and as a subject and objective of political education at secondary level general education and vocational schools as well as in examples of specialist teacher training. DemoS is part of the collaborative project Demokratiebildung in Deutschland (democracy education in Germany) being conducted with the German Youth Institute (DJI) which is also addressing early childhood education in a complementary sub-project called Bildung und Demokratie mit den Jüngsten BilDe (Education and democracy with very young children).

The focus is on the contribution democracy education can make to developing a sense of democracy and inclusion in pupils and to encouraging their participation in society. Its objective is the systematic and focussed development of this complex subject field. The central questions are: (i) How is democracy education conceived, designed and implemented across the entire curricular process, from education policy parameters (policy curriculum), to programme design in terms of curricula and textbooks (programmatic curriculum) and including pedagogic and scholastic practice (enacted curriculum) (ii) What potential for democracy education is subsequently unlocked and under what conditions can that potential be exploited?

In order to answer these questions the DemoS project team will undertake four interconnected sub-projects that will examine the issues in more detail: (i) An analysis of curricula, focussing on the reciprocative relationship between specialised, didactic and education policy debates and the resulting curricula. (ii) A textbook analysis that will utilise quantitative and qualitative content analysis of selected political studies textbooks to investigate the importance afforded democracy education as a topic and an objective and its significance in teaching practice. (iii) A qualitative interview study which focuses on the role of democracy education in political studies and the specific school culture. (iv) An analysis of scholastic and teaching practice that will use ethnographic methods to examine the implementation, appropriation and negotiation processes of political and programmatic processes in relation to democracy education.

In addition to these four sub-projects the project will expand the methodological repertoire of humanities and cultural studies in the context of the digital shift in academic working practices. The project team will digitise the curricula and textbooks under study and develop a digital search and analysis tool. The aim is to conduct an informed quantitative and qualitative content-analysis of curricula and political studies textbooks. For this purpose, the project staff are intensively involved in the development of the Research Toolbox.