Moulding the Good Citizen – The Utilisation of Emotions in National Education (15100)
This paper aims to reveal how emotions of fear and insecurity affect processes of behaviour and conduct inculcation into Singapore’s youth. It draws from fieldwork completed for my PhD investigating how citizenship education affects everyday meanings of good citizenship among Singapore’s youth with a particular focus on processes of subjection and resistance. A feminist ethnographic approach to the research was deployed, using qualitative methods; specifically 31 semi-structured interviews with undergraduate students were conducted and complemented by a critical analysis of citizenship education curricula and textbooks.
The paper illustrates how current governance strategies capture Singapore’s youth in an apparatus of insecurity with the language of fear being omnipresent in everyday life. A governance through fear approach exploits fears subjects may have and to some extent distorts their sense of balance between perceived and real dangers. The paper demonstrates that by stressing affective and emotional facets of good citizenship national education in Singapore aims to achieve young peoples’ everyday conduct grounded—at least partially—in their anxieties and fears and simultaneously reinforces their feelings of helplessness. It is suggested, that Singapore’s government deliberately maintains the perceived conditions of insecurity among its youth to preserve their affection and loyalty towards the nation.