Learning to Live Democracy (LLD)

Research question/goal: 

Since politics is complicated, tedious and abstract it is not suitable for children. The Project "Learning to Live Democracy (LLD)" refutes such clichés and prejudices. Already young children have political orientations, skills and competences and are interested in political questions. The main questions are: To what degree do children have basic political understandings and orientations about democracy when they enter primary school? Which developments can be observed during their first year in school? What are the main determinants of these levels and changes? Within the LLD-Project empirical-founded knowledge about early political socialization is collected. On the basis of an innovative procedure not requiring any reading or writing competences political orientations, skills and competences of about 750 children at the start at primary school in Mannheim were measured. A large part of these children participated at the beginning and at the end of their first and fourth years. In addition, interviews with parents and teachers have been carried out. In this way the project offers a unique opportunity to study both the political orientations of children entering primary school and the developments in these orientations during their first years in school. The results of the LLD-Project show that the political consciousness of young children is clearly underestimated by many researchers, parents, didactical experts and teachers. Besides, it is evident that political orientations among young children are not equally distributed: girls, children from Turkish families or from areas with a low socio-economic status show less developed political orientations and competences than boys, children from native German families or from areas with a higher socio-economic status. These differences do not disappear during the first years in school. Apparently, school attendance does not offer compensation for the initial inequalities.

Fact sheet

2000 to 2010
Data Sources: 
In-depth interviews (pilot phase), three-wave panel design,
Geographic Space: 



Abendschön, Simone (2010): Die Anfänge demokratischer Bürgerschaft. Sozialisation politischer und demokratischer Werte und Normen im jungen Kindesalter. Baden-Baden: Nomos. [Studien zur Wahl- und Einstellungsforschung; 18] more
van Deth, Jan W., Simone Abendschön, Julia Rathke and Meike Vollmar (2007): Kinder und Politik. Politische Einstellungen von jungen Kindern im ersten Grundschuljahr. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. more