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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

They might have added as a recent US legal test confirmed, that since shopping malls are private space, no public political activities can be undertaken within them - hence a woman organising a petition for a local community project was judged to be acting illegally.  One begins to wonder what would be the status of an intellectual-cum-political conversation in a shopping mall - would this also be illegal.  In the event, the owners have normally precluded such prospects - the muzak normally drives out the prospect of such talk let alone thought.  Suzanne Moore summarises the effect of the changing public/private balance on a political and moral thought:

... the valorisation of private property that took place in the eighties produced an almost tangible disdain for anything that was not privately owned.  As a psychic state, this was tolerable, but when people saw it enacted in their cities, schools and hospitals, the decay of public space, bad enough in itself, became symbolic of something even more rotten at the heart of the government.  To talk of civic society, never mind civic duty, is difficult among broken-down playgrounds littered with old condoms and screwed-up tin foil, lifts that don't work, streets you wouldn't want your children to roam (Moore, 1994, p. 5).

In France, the dilemma can be more easily understood.  In the Latin Quarter intellectuals gathered in the post-war period around a cluster of bookshops, cafes and bars.  Simone de Beauvoir in her memories, captures this time when:

Journalists, authors and would-be film-makers discussed, projected and decided with passion, as though their future depended upon them.
But now the bookshops have been replaced with chic fashion stores.  The cafes have likewise become chic, with industrialists and actors as the main clientele.  Now the house prices are among the highest in Paris.  The people who come here no longer belong to the academic world.  They are people who earn a lot of money (De Beauvoir, 1963).

Marcel Gauchet, a philosopher and editor of the review Le Debat, says

The cafes are only the most visible aspect of this.  The Sorbonne has completely changed and the students who go there are now entirely depoliticised: more than half the bookshops have shut, and the publishing houses are also leaving.  For years this was the area that carried intellectual trends.  Now, there might still be the odd author, the odd star, but there are no trends. (....) The changes to the Latin Quarter reflect changes to the position of intellectuals in France and their obliteration from the political scene (Gauchet, 1994, p. 20).

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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
  • Co-author: NAN
  • Subject:
    Professional Life and Work
  • Available in:
    English
  • Appears in:
    Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £23.99
  • ISBN: 9780335204113
  • Purchase this book:
    Open University Press
  • Buy used and new from: amazon uk