23 SES 13 A, Education Policy Analysis: Methodological Issues
France and the Netherlands are two good examples of two very different approaches of citizenship as can be illustrated by the distinction made by the Dutch American political scientist, Arend Lijphart, between the majoritarian model of democracy and the consensus type of democracy. According to Arend Lijphart, the differences between the two types of democracy can be described in broad terms as the difference between the concentration of power in the hands of a narrow majority versus the sharing, dispersing, and limiting of power in a variety of ways. A closely related difference is that the majoritarian model of democracy is competitive, and adversarial, whereas the consensus model is characterized by negotiation, and compromise. In the consensus model the influence of civil society is important. Whereas the Netherlands is one of the examples of a consensus democracy, France is a nation where the concentration of power in the hands of an almost monarch president is surely one of the strongest of the majoritarian democracies. If France claims to be the homeland of citizenship, it is not at ease with the idea of active or participatory citizenship in the contrary of the Netherlands. In both countries the political and economic crisis have put in tension the political traditions, but nevertheless in facing the crisis, the differences in their understandings of citizenship remain striking and different responses are visible. Before trying to assess the effects of the economic crisis on the policies and practices of active citizenship, this article will sketch a little bit more precisely the main features and recent events of French and Dutch political life to understand the transformations of active/participatory citizenship in both countries in the context of austerity.
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