The curriculum and citizenship education in the context of inequality: Seeking a praxis of hope

Carol Anne Spreen, Salim Vally

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In South Africa, more than most countries, the meaning of citizenship and related rights has faced severe contestation centred on categories such as race, class and nation. Close to two decades after the first democratic elections, notions of citizenship in South Africa represent a complex dynamic involving a combination of one or another of these social constructs, as they relate at different times to changing social, political and economic imperatives. In this article we explain that analyses of citizenship education in South Africa have traversed different phases over the last two decades and discuss some of the research on how ideas and values around citizenship are translated into classroom practice. We then examine notions about citizenship and social justice in the shadow of the xenophobic or Afrophobic attacks of 2008/2009 and in the light of the present rise in racial tensions within and across communities in South Africa. Our conclusion highlights the paradox that, despite the normative framework of the Constitution, policies and the curriculum, structural inequalities in society will continue to thwart attempts at social cohesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-97
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives in Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Citizenship education
  • Civic praxis
  • Critical pedagogy
  • Ethics
  • Hope
  • Identity
  • Inequality
  • Political mobilisation
  • Rights
  • Social justice
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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