A Phenomenographic Study of Youth Conceptualizations of Evil: Order-Words and the Politics of Evil
Students in secondary social studies examine descriptions of historical events and rhetoric by politicians that utilize the word and concept of evil. The label of evil can evoke specific images, feelings, and thoughts; oversimplify historical and contemporary situations; and decrease students’ sense of agency. This phenomenographical study included individual semi-structured interviews and focus groups. The outcome space revealed five referential aspects: evil as images, evil as affects (bodily) and effects (cognitive), evil as something that is abnormal and/or extraordinary, evil as human, and evil as subjective. One salient implication of this study is that teachers, textbook authors, and curriculum designers need to more explicitly engage with naming and describing evil in social studies education in the context of Deleuze and Guattari’s (1980/2008) order-words.
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