Democracy and education in a white suburban high school: an ethnography
Stenson, Christine Marie
This ethnographic study begins by outlining two competing conceptions of democracy, the participatory and representative views. These conceptions frame an analysis of the practices for socialization for democratic citizenship at one majority white middle to upper-middle class suburban high school. The practices were abstracted from nonparticipant observations of an American government class, shadowing and interviewing six students through three school days apiece, and interviewing eight teachers and two school counselors. The school was found to be, on average, educating students in line with the representative view of democracy. The study concludes with discussion and encouragement of further research into practices to promote students’ acquisition of the knowledge, dispositions, and skills required to be effective citizens in a democracy.