Between Conformity and Critique. Developing ‘Activism’ and Active Citizenship: Dangerous Pedagogies?

Walkyria Monte Mór, Brian Morgan


The authors discuss the concept of active/engaged citizenship from both Brazilian and Canadian perspectives and relate their discussion specifically to Language Teacher Education (LTE). The text, thus, centers on research, practices and theories on the issue, considering the socio-political histories of education and language teaching through which the development of such modes of citizenship reveal their relevance in the respective countries. Believing that ‘engaged citizenship’ can greatly contribute to programs that seek to foster critical literacies, the authors examine the potential for citizenship practices to promote social participation and ‘critical making’ in second/foreign language settings. As the authors argue, active citizenship work is always potentially “dangerous” (cf. Foucault)—a contradictory and delicate balance between conformity and critique when actualized in classroom settings. Specific examples from the classroom will be discussed and related to theory. Conformity is potentially realized when citizenship practices celebrate neoliberal approaches to volunteerism and self-reliance.  Critique potentially arises when critical awareness of the state’s complicity in neoliberal values are integrated in teachers’ practices.  In the former case, students are encouraged to affirm a reduced role for the state by valorizing volunteerism and self-reliance, while in the latter, they develop critical awareness of the state’s complicity in beliefs that affirm neoliberal values of self-reliance and reduced state responsibilities.


active citizenship; critical education; teacher education; language teaching

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ISSN eletrônico: 1984-5677

ISSN impresso: 1519-0994