Citizenship and Children’s Songs

A while ago, I pondered about the possibility that conceptions of citizenship are reflected in the songs children learn. It might be a bit wacky, but aren’t children’s songs one way we transmit our world view to the next generation?

I abandoned this because it seemed too tedious to do this is a systematic manner, but I did code a few children’s songs in German and French. I drew on compilations of “most favourites”, and focused on songs common in the German and French areas of Switzerland. A first look indeed confirmed that Swiss-German songs are more likely to refer to farmers and their work, or to craft. These are themes that match a more “ethnic” understanding of citizenship.

Areas where there are no obvious differences between language areas include movement and dancing, food, body parts, being cheerful, animals, or landscapes. More common in the French speaking-part were themes of being mischievous. I’m not sure how this is linked to the traditionally more “civic” understanding of citizenship.

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