The Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture

Ideological Refractions, Othering and Obedient Politics

Keywords: Democracy, Eurocentrism, Competence, Critical Interculturality, Intertextuality, Ideology


The popularity of the idea of interculturality, in different parts of the world, means that there are many differing meanings and ways in which the notion is understood, represented, and expressed. In contrast to the polysemy of the intercultural, democracy often appears on the surface to be understood through universalist and/or absolutist conceptualisations. Combining the intercultural and democracy thus requires problematisation. In this article we use The Council of Europe Reference Framework On Competencies ForDemocratic Culture(2018) as an example showing how the notion of the intercultural is constructed. We use a form of intertextuality in order to show the performance of competing ideologies found in this document. Some of the ideologies found within the texts clearly mark Eurocentric discourses and a stigmatization of the other. Also, the way in which the political is sanitized can engender a language of depoliticization and obedience. As a result, we problematiseCritical Interculturalityas a way to move beyond culturalist self-centered notions of the intercultural arguing that the political and the social cannot be separated from the intercultural when discussing democracy.

Author Biographies

Ashley Simpson, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, China

Dr. Ashley Simpson is Assistant Professor in the School of Foreign Studies, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Dr. Simpson specializes in Intercultural Education and Intercultural Communication, Discourse theories and methods, and, Critical approaches to Democracy and Human Rights. Dr. Simpson is also the Vice-Director of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics – University of Helsinki Joint Research Centre on Intercultural Studies.

Fred Dervin, University of Helsinki, Finland

Fred Dervin is Professor of Multicultural Education at the University of Helsinki (Finland) and hold honorary and visiting positions around the world. Prof. Dervin specializes in intercultural education, the sociology of multiculturalism and student and academic mobility.