Who is the active citizen in Norway and Denmark?
On 5 February 2021, Noor Jdid will defend her PhD thesis at the University of Bergen. Her thesis is called “’Taking part in society the way I am.’ An exploration of active citizenship norms in Denmark and Norway.”
The term active citizenship is often associated with positive values like relations between neighbours, volunteering and political participation. We know the term from political rhetoric, where it contains an expectation that citizens are supposed to participate in society, for instance as members of organizations or in activities of more a formal character. The term is often referred to in discussions concerning certain population groups, like the poor, immigrants, or people with functional impairments. They are seen as not fulfilling expectations of participation but are instead assumed to be “passive citizens.”
In her thesis, Jdid explores Norwegian and Danish citizens’ understandings of active citizenship and their motivations for civic engagement. Jdid has talked to 123 people in five neighbourhoods in Oslo and Copenhagen. These people are not recruited on the basis of certain categories of identity or a certain understanding of who is “active” or not. Thus, Jdid captures diverse understandings of active citizenship and how these understandings are formed through both place attachments, life experiences and power relations in the Danish and Norwegian societies.
Two important insights from the study are: 1) Active citizenship is not just a descriptive term; it also has a normative dimension that can contribute to the creation of a moral distinction between the “good,” active citizens and the “less good,” passive citizens. 2) These moral distinctions are both challenged and upheld by the interlocutors, who act based on their own experiences, across different arenas for participation, both inside and outside of the framework of the nation state.
The study concludes that a broadening of the term “active citizenship” can contribute to increased inclusion and empowerment, especially of marginalized groups that make active contributions to society, but outside of organizations. This allows for a broadened understanding of what it means to be a contributing member of society, so that the diversity of ways and arenas in which citizens participate and contribute to society is recognized.
About the candidate
Noor Jdid (b. 1985) holds a Master of Arts in Peace, Development, Security and International Conflict Transformation from the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She has conducted the work on her doctoral thesis at the Peace Research Institute (PRIO) and the Centre for Women’s and Gender Research (SKOK), University of Bergen. Her main supervisor was Cindy Horst and her co-supervisor was Christine M. Jacobsen. Jdid is currently an employee at NOKUT (the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education).
Meet the candidate after the defense
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How to follow the trial lecture and defense
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The trial lecture starts precisely at 4.30 pm CET on 4 February, and the defense at 9.30 am CET on 5 February.
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Open for everyone who is interested.