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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

So far you may have discovered some modernist longing in this talk - so there is a whiff of the modernist dinosaur - but there is also a sense of the dangerous delusions of modernism; which lead into so many positional traps. Those dangerous delusions were sponsored in a period of expansionist economic reconstruction where more socially inclusive policies were temporarily promised.

In this period notions of the public sphere and of intellectual work, and specifically education research, which applied itself to improving public life were readily accessible. But in the last 20 years there has been a profound struggle for public life and for the intellectual work associated with its improvement.

Lest we accept that it is a problem of shortage of money, it is worth pointing out that the opposite is happening to the Police, the Army and to expenditure on military weapons and private developments, like private shopping malls and private housing. Here there is a huge growth in expenditure and in expanding developments.

Overall then, we are obviously not short of money. What is happening is that we are choosing consistently the private over the public at nearly all levels and this is playing through into an attack on the 'median level'.

Wolf argues that the median levels of professional life are a confusing nuisance between the direct relationship of the State and its subjects and industry and its customers.  In the median level critique, social criticism, theory building, and arguments against inequality still reside.

The attempt therefore, at the global level, is to weaken this level and move the centre of action for knowledge construction to other levels. Michael Gibbons has recently written about the distinction between mode 1 and mode 2 knowledge. Mode 1 knowledge is essentially disciplinary knowledge, normally developed in the traditional universities. Mode 2 knowledge is applied knowledge, increasingly developed in the R & D sectors of the private industrial base, together with the think tanks associated with this sector of the economy.Whilst mode 1 knowledge is under sustained attack, mode 2 knowledge is being sponsored.This is merely a version of the changing priority from the public to private that I mentioned earlier.

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Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives
  • Date of publication: 01/09/2003
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 160
  • Publisher: Open University Press
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
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  • Appears in:
    Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change
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  • Price of book: £23.99
  • ISBN: 9780335204113
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