Tomorrow's Godly Americans: Citizenship Education and National Identity in Conservative Christian Homeschools
Butler, Jeffrey Ian
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"This dissertation examines citizenship discourse and national identity in conservative evangelical homeschools in the U.S. Using the Christian Home-Educators of Colorado (CHEC) as an ethnographic case study, it elucidates the role of evangelical homeschoolers in the managed construction of their children's political identities, putting forward an account of citizenship discourses that shows how they are produced, managed, taken up and contested through CHEC activities and homeschool teaching and learning.· The dissertation illuminates the role of civic discourses in the lives of homeschool parents endeavouring to shape their children into ""Christian-Americans"". Analyzing four data sources: interviews with CHEC homeschoolers and leaders (N=34), ethnographic observation of the 2009 CHEC conference, speeches delivered at the annual CHEC convention between 2004 and 2010 (N=22), and texts and materials from several organizations for conservative Christian youth geared towards civic · education, the dissertation hones in on the concept of ""world view"", an important category that CHEC homeschoolers actively construct. The two components of the ""conservative Christian nationalist worldview"" - one backward-looking and the other forward-facing - unite in the present. The dissertation explores how Christian homeschool parents pass this worldview on and build civic identity in their children through the social organization of citizenship education. It contends that evangelical home-educators draw on particular interpretations of history to establish membership and belonging. This national identity is constituted by responding to ""others"" who lie outside homeschoolers' political imaginary with discourses of ""contamination vs. purity"" and ""discernment"". Accomplished through meticulous social organization that combines deliberate role modeling, participation in certain activities, and the mobilization of specific discursive resources, homeschool parents shape their children into passionate citizens. Finally, the dissertation demonstrates how patriarchal discourses of gender tie into nationalist ideology, guiding gendered socialization and civic learning."