The Struggle for “Thick” or Transformative Citizenship and Democracy in Australia: What Future Teachers Believe and Why it is Important


  • David Zyngier Monash University, Australia



Civics and citizenship education, Neo-liberalism, Democracy, Critical pedagogy


This paper analyses pre-service education student perceptions and perspectives related to education for democracy in Australia. Using a critical-pedagogical framework to analyse data from an on-line survey, the paper presents both quantitative and qualitative responses to contrast understandings of democracy. The paper begins by outlining the concepts of thick and thin democracy, and revisiting the (parlous) state of civics and citizenship education (CCE) in Australia. Overall, pre-service teachers in this study display a tendency to view democracy in a very narrow or thin way that may impact their classroom practice.


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Author Biography

David Zyngier, Monash University, Australia

David Zyngier is a professor in the Faculty of Education at Monash University and a former school principal and state school teacher. His research focuses on culturally, linguistically and economically diverse (CLED) learning communities; social justice; democratic education; and teacher knowledge and beliefs. He has published widely on pedagogies that improve outcomes for students from communities of promise. He is co-director (with Paul Carr) of the Global Doing Democracy Research Project (http://doingdemocracy., an international project with over 50 researchers in 20 countries that examines perspectives and perceptions of democracy in education to develop a robust and critical democratic education. This project has received Australian and Canadian Research Council funding of over $500000. He developed the Enhanced Learning Improvement in Networked Communities program, which gained a Schools First Award of $75000 for its contribution to students experiencing learning difficulties and school engagement problems. He is on the editorial board of a number of education journals.