2023 journal article

Living Democracy: Social Structures that Promote Civic Learning

Adult Learning.

co-author countries: Germany 🇩🇪 United States of America 🇺🇸
Source: ORCID
Added: October 5, 2023

Democracy is not only a system of government, but also an overarching way of living together. It is through the social structures we live in and the resulting social relations, behaviors, and norms emanating from those structures, that we learn how to live together, democratically or otherwise. Adult education can promote the learning of democracy by helping people develop social structures that are democratic in form and function. Drawing on examples from Europe and the U.S., this article presents two such structures: (1) the system of voluntary associations in Germany; and (2) sociocracy as a form of democratic institutional governance. This article discusses how these structures can promote processes through which participants practice living democratically. Six principles for adult civic learning are thus derived: Inclusivity, Horizontal Relationships, Polycentricity, Confluence of Expert and Amateur, Interdependence between Specific Situations and Larger Contexts, and the Reciprocal Nature of Civic Learning and Solidarity.