Virtual communities, a challenge for today’s concepts of identity and citizenship*
The period of the ’90s was called by Ralf Dahrendorf the decade of “citizenship”, due to the historical transformations that influenced the evolution of civil consciousness and education for citizenship: post-communist transitions, crisis of the welfare state, economic and cultural globalisation (Dobrescu, 2003). In opposition with the depreciation of the fundamental values of modern epoch – labour, mass society and national state – this period is characterised also by the rebirth of civic virtue. In fact, as remarked by Cezar Bîrzea (2005), “in all the periods of crises and dilemmas, the civic ideal was invoked as a hope, as a solution or as a new project of civilisation “. The informal curriculum or the hidden curriculum places an important role in the education of the future citizens. The hidden curriculum refers to the non-academic, implicit and permanent learning, but based on the cognitive learning environment. The pedagogical influences of this curriculum are unintentional, not planned or sometime unconscious. An important place has also the interpersonal relationships, the organizational culture where the education takes place (Iacob&Cismaru, 2004): social relations, behavioural patterns, symbols, self-image etc. Under these circumstances, both education for citizenship and education for communication and mass-media may be considered among the most efficient means for establishing a new social contract, based on citizens’ rights and duties, which could reinstate social cohesion and solidarity based on moral order. European Council also underlines that the contemporary educational system plays a crucial part in individuals training as independent and responsible citizens. The educational systems must offer the young the opportunity to achieve knowledge, attitudes and competencies that are interconnected to each other: preparing for a life in a democracy, preparing for the working life, preparing for the cultural life. The school must adapt itself to these evolutions, by stimulating the pupils’ socialisation and by assurance of direct exercise of human rights and participative democracy in school. This may become a way, a model of forming and exercising the competencies for the foundation of the future culture, social and political life.
In this context, virtual communities represent the expression of a new type of socialisation which, although highlighted in a hyper reality, also bear and disseminate, at least on the declarative level, the social civil norms of traditional communities. As shown before, the impact of informal education, especially in the area of social media, is considerable. But the conformation through exercise to the principles of the “new education” (education for citizenship, education for communication) add to the shaping of youth, the future active citizens of traditional communities, criticism spirit and behaviour needed for the observance of the principles of the Rawlsian classical liberalism.
* The scientific version of the article can be found at: Rotaru Ileana (2014)- Virtual Communities, A Challenge for Today’s Concepts of Identity and Citizenship, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences , vol.159, pp. 37-41 , http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042814064544