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Rhetoric, Knowledge and the Public Sphere


Edited By Agnieszka Kampka and Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska

Public deliberation depends on how skillful communicators are in establishing their version of what is known to be publicly acceptable. This volume provides rhetorical analyses of institutional websites, political speeches, scientific presentations, journalistic accounts or visual entertainment. It shows the significance of rhetorical construction of knowledge in the public sphere. It addresses the issues of citizenship and social participation, media agendas, surveillance and verbal or visual manipulation. It offers rhetorical critiques of current trends in specialist communication and of devices used when contested interests or ideologies are presented.
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Louise Schou Therkildsen - Becoming a citizen: Knowledge and identity in European textbooks for citizenship tests


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Louise Schou Therkildsen

Uppsala University

Becoming a citizen: Knowledge and identity in European textbooks for citizenship tests

1. Introduction

In many Western countries1 immigrants need to pass a citizenship test in order to obtain citizenship. Such tests are often intensely debated in the media, where they are typically criticised on a factual level for being either too easy or too difficult for even natural-born citizens to pass, and on an ideological level for equating national citizenship with trivial knowledge about kings, queens and geographical characteristics.2 The central question in these debates has to do with the meaning of being a citizen in a national community: Is this meaning manifested in factual knowledge? In democratic practice? Or in an emotional bond?

This continuous criticism has not led, in practice, to many political changes. Once they are implemented, citizenship tests are not easily abolished, which leads one to believe that political parties across ideological orientations are in favour of such tests. It does happen that a test is abolished only to reappear with a new name, time frame, thematic focus and questions.3 Also the textbooks some countries have chosen to publish in order for applicants to be able to prepare for these tests are subject to change. Among these countries are Denmark and Austria whose textbooks are analysed in this chapter.

In such official learning materials, the aforementioned trivial facts about kings and queens are interwoven into...

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