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Capacity Building for Citizenship Education: Global Hegemony and the New “Ethics of Civilization” Open Access


Other title
Critical Realism
Citizenship Education
Capacity Building
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
McGray, Robert G.
Supervisor and department
Kachur, Jerry (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Borg, Carmel (University of Malta)
Kelly, Jennifer (Educational Policy Studies)
Taylor, Alison (Educational Policy Studies)
Kapoor, Dip (Educational Policy Studies)
den Heyer, Kent (Secondary Education)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The concept of capacity building has seen a swell of support in recent years. Many, varying from community-based practitioners to multinational institutions, have leveraged the concept in their work. By investigating the ethics (the normative positions), the explanations (the explanatory positions), and what evidence people use to measure capacity (the empirical positions), this research uses a Critical Discourse Analysis to investigate the relationships that are formed by employing capacity building for citizenship education. After investigating multinational policy documents and interviewing participants in Jamaica and Canada, I argue that capacity building for citizenship education has vastly disparate and contrasting manifestations. While Capacity Building is widely understood as an effort to emphasize local agency, it becomes quickly evident that the nature of that agency is often circumscribed by dominant institutions of the global market economy. Take, for example, the World Bank, which propagates crippling structural adjustment policies in Jamaica, but at the same time is also one of the most active policy makers in the field of capacity building. There are, however, many voices that appear through the interviews that are critical of this process. These voices question the ability, and appropriateness, of capacity building when used by many policy makers, and the resulting intervention into people’s lives. This disparate condition of capacity building has been brought about by the articulation of three conjoined processes: The first – my critique of the explanatory position – is that the emphasis on the capacity for action unrealistically privileges agency at the expense of our understanding of social structures; the second – my empirical argument of the nature of capacity building – is that the movement has become intertwined with global political economic discourses thereby providing the “spirit” of global capital; the third – my critique of the normative position – is that capacity building has attempted to provide an ethical project which stresses incorporation, as opposed to exclusion, as a form of hegemony. When these three positions are read together, I argue that capacity building has provided a complex policy matrix in forming the hegemonic relationship of global capital; what is referred to here as the new ethics of civilization.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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