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Building democratic citizenship competencies in K-5 economics through analysis of popular culture

Erin M. Casey (School of Education, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)
Jay H. Casey (Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA)

Social Studies Research and Practice

ISSN: 1933-5415

Article publication date: 5 June 2019

Issue publication date: 21 June 2019




Development of economic understandings fosters the growth of democratic citizenship competencies. Elements of popular culture should be recognized for the influence they have on children’s economic decisions. Children should learn of the concept of popular culture to regulate its effect on their habits and understand how it has shaped the lives of people throughout history. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Using a C3 inquiry investigation, this study explored if students from fifth grade to kindergarten could be engaged in higher-level thinking about economic concepts through the analysis of elements of popular culture in historical primary sources and then continue that analysis into popular culture of their own lives. Analyses of students’ discussions during each stage of the study provide descriptive statistics and themes to reveal understandings.


Results imply that children can successfully engage in document analysis and creation of accurate present-day popular culture artifacts and that children in second grade and above were subsequently influenced in their economic understandings about spending and saving money from popular culture analyses. Children in first grade and kindergarten were not successfully able to express these deeper connections, which may be explained by cognitive theory offered for this age range.


This research offers a unique way of combining the analysis of historic and present-day primary sources in order to understand the influences popular culture can have on economic-based behaviors. Novel approaches, which use the C3 framework to engage students in higher-order thinking of social studies disciplines, will help build stronger democratic citizenship competencies in children.



Casey, E.M. and Casey, J.H. (2019), "Building democratic citizenship competencies in K-5 economics through analysis of popular culture", Social Studies Research and Practice, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 135-149.



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