Gifford, Chris, Watt, Paul, Koster, S. and Clark, W. (2006) Active citizens of the future? Undergraduate social science students' perspectives on citizenship. In: British Sociological Association Annual Conference, Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd April 2006, Harrogate, UK. (Unpublished)

General narratives of social change suggest a decline of conventional citizenship associated with institutional politics within the national
arena. At the same time, there has been a rise of more complex and multi-dimensional forms of citizenship, related to the contestation of
traditional models of citizenship by new social movements, as well as new sites of citizenship rights and activities such as human rights or
the European Union. While research into young people's political identities confirm a degree of disengagement from conventional
citizenship, this has not implied a general disinterest in the 'new' forms of citizenship. Undergraduate social science students have
traditionally been associated with political radicalism and active engagement with a range of new social movements and would thereby
be expected to adopt ' new' citizenship forms associated with active citizenship and cosmopolitan social identities. However, at the same
time the social base and pedagogical content of social science courses has changed via widening participation initiatives, the increased
entry of minority ethnic groups into higher education, and the rise in popularity of degrees such as criminology. The question this paper
addresses is whether or not the contemporary cohort of undergraduate social science students is embracing 'new' citizenship forms and
practices? It does so with reference to survey-based research undertaken with first year undergraduate social science students. We
explore what their experiences of citizenship education, engagement in civic life and participation in political organisations can tell us
about the citizenship identities and practices of highly educated young people.

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