Improving Participation in a Pluralistic Democracy through a Cosmopolitan Approach to Social Studies Education
Keywords:postcolonial theory, globalization, multicultural citizenship, cosmopolitanism, transformative citizenship education
Democracy in a pluralistic society depends on individual and group participation. One of the goals of social studies education is to instill a sense of civic efficacy. Some people are able to consistently participate in democratic processes, yet many are not able to because of cultural and societal marginalization. The assimilationist approach to building national unity forces individuals to give up their cultural identity in order to be accepted by the mainstream culture. This loss of identity can cause resentment and alienation, which leads to a fragmenting of the national society, and decreasing national unity. Globalization has increased the diversity of American society, and ignoring the relationships that individuals have in their local, national, and global communities can contribute to the marginalization of diverse cultural groups. A cosmopolitan approach to social studies education can reinforce democratic principles that are valued in the United States, by acknowledging the ethnic and cultural diversity and multicultural citizenship. This can increase national unity and individual civic efficacy while also celebrating the diversity found in our communities.