Soft Power and Hard Measures: Large-Scale Assessment, Citizenship and the European Union

Jul. 15, 2010

Source: European Educational Research Journal, Volume 9 Number 3, p. 381‑395. (2010).

This paper examines the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS).
In particular, the article focuses on the European Union’s (EU’s) involvement in the regional portion.

Using the ICCS, the EU actively combines hard measures with soft power, allowing the EU to define and steer cross-national rankings of values of EU citizenship.

The authors contend that once hard measures of citizenship are produced, they become an efficient ‘truth’ that can be legitimated through evaluation and ranking.
As measures are represented in comparative tables, the conversation shifts to ‘Why are we ranked here?’ rather than ‘How/why were we ranked?’ This shift requires critical discussion, one which is often difficult, given the politics of agreement and funding patterns underlying assessment.

Updated: Jan. 25, 2011