Thesis (Ph.D)

Education as a political experience: A phenomenology of citizenship education in Israel


The thesis presents a study of citizenship education, by examining how it is taught in Israel. Its primary aim is to understand the relation between politics and education as it manifests in interactions between teachers and students. The study includes interviews with Israeli teachers about their practice, alongside a philosophical inquiry into the educational requirements of political life. Political phenomenology is introduced as a methodological basis for a new understanding of citizenship education. The first chapter explores the tenuous relationship between education and politics, and points to the specific dangers it poses in the Israeli case. The second chapter reviews the assumptions concerning pedagogy and politics within different accounts of citizenship education. The third chapter examines how these accounts influence Israeli educational discourse, through analysis of policy documents and educational research into citizenship education. Hannah Arendt’s conception of citizenship as political action, as well as her demand that education be separated from politics serves as the methodological and thematic basis for my thesis. The fourth chapter presents the methodology of my thesis and argues for a new political phenomenology of citizenship education, against two existing research approaches- the institutional approach and the critical approach. It explores how these two approaches lead to different research methodologies. The phenomenological tradition of research is presented as a way of describing a phenomenon by distancing oneself from it, or at least ‘bracketing’ one’s beliefs, thereby allowing a non-ideological account of citizenship education. The fifth chapter elaborates on the process of interviewing that took place in the 2015-16 academic year and demonstrates my method of analysis. The sixth, seventh, and eighth chapters present three ontological features of citizenship education as a political experience, and constitute the contribution to knowledge made by this thesis. Chapter six defines and presents liminality as a key spatial characteristic of citizenship education. Chapter seven examines the way the concept of responsibility is interpreted and enacted in citizenship education. Chapter eight analyses the way educational discourses treat “controversial issues” to argue for a wider, dialogical notion of controversy, and to offer an ‘ethics of encounter’ as the pedagogic basis for citizenship education.

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Gideon, Ido


Supervisors: Rayner, Stephen; Butt, Graham; Haight, Annie; Aldridge, David

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Education


Year: 2017

© Gideon, Ido
Published by Oxford Brookes University
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