The Beginnings of Democratic Citizenship. Value Orientations of Young Children
Democracy rests upon the political involvement of its citizens. Within the last couple of years, there has been increasing demands for the inclusion of children – the youngest citizens – in this democratic decision- making process. Since values, from a young age, presumably play a central role in the process of democratic development, this paper will focus on the value orientations of children: Can we detect a consistent structure of value orientations at a young age or are these notions characterized by arbitrariness? The analyses of attitudes of children, ages six to seven year old, concerning socially desirable behavior could show that at the beginning of their school career, young children already do indeed hold clearly structured value orientations. This structure does undergo changes within the socialization context of school, however. With regard to the children’s “level” of value endowment, it has been found that the socialization context of school had an overall positive effect on the evolution of the level of children’s value orientations. Nevertheless, achievement differences between subgroups at the beginning of the first school year have been discovered, which could not be compensated for by school influences.