Beyond “Doom and Gloom” and “Saving the World”: On the Relevance of Sociology in Civic Education

  • Vjeran Katunaric´


In this article some tenets of classical and contemporary sociology are examined with reference to social problems that are also topical in civic education. The social problems are: social inequality, inter-communal conflicts, and democratic participation. A major obstacle in adopting sociological interpretations of the social problems to contemporary civic education lies in sociological reservations toward liberal democracy as a remedy to the social problems. More properly, some utopian (from radical to conservative) ramifications of the sociological analysis cannot actually be adopted in civic education. As a consequence, sociology is often distanced toward normative order and dominant forms of social power and practice of the actually existing societies, including liberal democracies. Thus, one can argue that sociology educates “young skeptics”, rather than “young citizens” as postulated in some national curricula of civic education. Still, sociology may serve in civic education as an abundant source of knowledge for unraveling prejudices and false forms of democracy in the contemporary society, and also for questioning some national solutions to pressing social problems. Also, as long as civic education has a tendency to idealize the actually existing forms of (liberal) democracy and thus avoiding major criticism of the social order, teaching sociology in secondary education in concurrence with CE would be necessary for the sake of establishing a comprehensive education on the contemporary society and citizenship.