Citizenship, self-efficacy and education: A conceptual review

Bram Eidhof, Doret de Ruyter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


Primary and secondary schools across the world are expected to contribute to the citizenship development of their pupils. Most citizenship curricula focus on the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of skills and attitudes. Citizenship-related self-efficacy beliefs are often neglected in the literature on citizenship education, although they appear to play a crucial role in learning processes, among others as explanatory factors for the inequalities between students in different educational tracks. As such, studies on the development of citizenship-related self-efficacy beliefs have the potential to inform practice in a way that fosters greater equality of opportunity. However, as the literature on civic and political self-efficacy uses different dimensions and conceptualizations, this poses challenges to both the scientific accumulation of knowledge and translation to teaching practices. Here, we analyse the conceptual challenges and propose a framework for the study of self-efficacy in citizenship education research that incorporates social and political tasks of citizens and distinguishes the variety of communities in which citizens perform those tasks on two axes, namely formality and size. In doing so, we argue for fine-grained distinctions based on context instead of the all-encompassing notions of civic and political self-efficacy political theorists appear to prefer. We end by discussion two normative issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-82
Number of pages19
JournalTheory and Research in Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2022


  • Citizenship education
  • civic efficacy
  • collective efficacy
  • political efficacy
  • self-efficacy

Cite this