Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Political identity development and democratic community building in the village foundation simulation

The found-a-village simulation (see Petrik 2010) is a means of co-productive transfer between scientific didactic knowledge, teacher competencies and learner development in the field of civic education. Teachers and students will be a proactive part of its evaluation. The village simulation represents an approved social experiment that provokes highly controversial debates among participants about basic societal cleavages and the democratic system. The simulation will be implemented in selected German schools (qualitative sampling), including two project days and four to five 90 minutes lessons. Those schools should provide a socio-cultural context where some students articulate anti-democratic values like extreme or populist right wing or Islamist positions. After a teacher training we will evaluate the selected classes with a questionnaire, before and after the simulation. We will ask for democratic and anti-democratic attitudes, political values, self-efficacy expectations and participation experiences and intentions. After six months to one year this questionnaire will be applied again to show possible long-term effects.

The main inquiry will be an argumentation analysis in the Toulmin tradition (see Petrik 2010) of the transcribed students’ debates within the found-a-village simulation. Problem-centered interviews with selected students and the teachers aim at revealing self-reflection processes of their didactical and political experiences and development. For this purpose, the students will be confronted with short excerpts of the transcripts, where their typical argumentation is documented. Teachers will be asked for their difficulties in taking a Socratic role.

Thematic Reference to Social Cohesion

The found-a-village simulation takes 25 45-minutes-lessons and is applied from 8th to 13th grade throughout Germany. The village creates a virtual space of commitment and social cohesion, fostering self-efficacy expectations and moderating political apathy due to the fact that the purpose of political regulation can be experienced intrinsically. This highly controversial setting promotes especially conflict solving and political judgment skills – or reveals the students troubles with these competencies.

When students imagine to emigrate in a deserted Pyrenees mountain village they are confronted – mostly for the first time – with their own and with opposed values. This “perturbation” (Piaget) is due to fundamental political topics like decision making, resource distribution, religion, ecology, gender and migration. This perturbation triggers a process of self-reflection about the contingency and the variability of their own pollical stance, together with the duty to justify ones claims (political judgments skills). Equally the students’ awareness for the necessity of a peaceful democratic coordination can be strengthened (conflict resolution skills). These outcomes apply mostly to young people who don’t show a manifest extremist viewpoint.

By analysing the argumentation of “marked students” we have developed an initial set of politicization types as heuristics for civic education teachers that could facilitate a sensitive coping with learning problems (diagnostic skills). I define a politicization type as set of typical problems and chances in developing political judgment skills and conflict resolution skills, depending on the student's latent or explicit political ideology. We distinguish democratic and non-democratic politicization types resp. those sceptical about democracy. This set of learner types and teaching strategies will be extended by the inquiry of new cases


Principle investigator: Andreas Petrik

Project member: Dr. David Jahr



Publications (Selection)

  • Petrik, Andreas 2013: Von den Schwierigkeiten, ein politischer Mensch zu werden. Konzept und Praxis einer genetischen Politikdidaktik. Studien zur Bildungsgangforschung, Band 13, 2., erweiterte und aktualisierte Auflage, Opladen, Berlin, Toronto.
  • Petrik, Andreas 2015: Die Argumentationsanalyse als Instrument zur Rekonstruktion latent rechtsextremistischer Politisierungstypen, in: Petrik, Andreas (Hrsg.): Formate fach­didaktischer Forschung in der politischen Bildung, Schwalbach am Taunus, 176-188.
  • Petrik, Andreas; Hentschel, Jannis; Köhler, Anke 2018: Lernort Schule: Die „Dorfgründung“ als demokratischer Prozess. Ergebnisse eines Simulationsspiels im Unterricht. Forschungsbericht des Projekts Demokratietransfer, Band 2, Halle.