The Construction of Citizenship. An Approach from the Social Representations of Participation and Social Memory.
Postmodern social problems include: multiple identities marked by a strategic political system and market rationality; the depoliticization of citizenship, stressing the political prestige and selflessness for the common good; and the political, economic and social crisis of the nation states. These are some of the lines of inquiry that lead us to investigate the meaning of citizen participation and active policy through social representations and social memory. When looking at the construction of citizenship, these approaches are conducive to a view of participation as an essential tool for strengthening practical civic and political culture. This research focused its analysis on the social representations of the participation of young people, and how they guide their styles and participative practices. It highlights their attitudes, motivations, and expectations. This psychosocial analysis aims to situate the context of the construction of citizenship, and the process of societal change, that is, of what we have called ‘the paradigm from the individual to the social’. We are dealing with social representations (Castorina, Barreiro & Toscano, 2005; Moscovici, 1961) of participative and non-participative subject participation, and discussions of social memory (Jodelet, 1993). The hypothesis is that the participating subjects do not integrate a reference to historical thought in their social representations. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 40 participating subjects and distributed a questionnaire to 300 subjects from the population of Monterrey and its metropolitan area. The interviews were analyzed using content analysis, and descriptive statistics were used to present the questionnaire findings. The results confirm the hypothesis and show that historical thought is not present in the social representations of citizen participation (Carretero & Voss, 2004). This provides scope for critical reflection. It is concluded that historical thought is not a necessary element for the formation of a shared identity or for the construction of citizenship, in the case of the population studied.