The last two decades have been marked by momentous changes in
forms of governance throughout the post-Soviet region. Ukraine's
political system, like those of other formerly socialist states of
Eastern Europe, has often been characterized as being "in
transition," moving from a Soviet system to one more closely
aligned with Western models. Anna Fournier challenges this view,
investigating what is increasingly recognized as a critical aspect
of contemporary global rights discourse: the active involvement of
young people living in societies undergoing radical change.
Fournier delineates a generation simultaneously embracing various
ideological stances in an attempt to make sense of social
conditions marked by the disjuncture between democratic ideals and
the everyday realities of growing economic inequality.
Based on extensive fieldwork in public and private schools in the
Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv, Forging Rights in a New
Democracy explores high-school-aged students' understanding of
rights and justice, and the ways they interpret and appropriate
discourses of citizenship and civic values in the educational
setting and beyond. Fournier's rich ethnographic account assesses
the impact on the making of citizens of both formal and informal
pedagogical practices, in schools and on the streets. Chronicling
her subjects' encounters with state representatives and "violent
entrepreneurs" as well as their involvement in peaceful protests
alongside political activists, Fournier demonstrates the extent to
which young people both reproduce and challenge the liberal
discourse of rights in ways that illuminate the everyday paradoxes
of market democracy. By tracking students' active participation in
larger contests about the nature of liberty and entitlement in the
context of redefined rights, her book provides insight into
emergent configurations of citizenship in the New Europe.
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