It’s More than Just Debating: The Political Participation and Democratic Attitudes of Debate Programme Participants in Seven “New” Democracies
This study is focused on the democratic competencies and political participation of young
people taking part in debate programs in seven “new” democracies – the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Macedonia, Romania and Slovakia. The research employs conventional methods adopted from
various established surveys for capturing the political attitudes and values of youths. Using a longitudinal
research design, we compare results from debaters and their non-debating peers on three dimensions:
political competence, democratic values and political participation. The results of the pre-tests indicate
that debaters’ attitudes are more in accordance with what a democratic theory would expect from active
and engaged citizens. Participating in debate activities did not reveal significant attitudinal improvements
during the short timeframe of our research (one school year), but the initial differences between debaters
and non-debaters remained stable over time.
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