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Professional Life and Work

Professional Knowledge, Professional Lives: studies in education and change

Educational Research as a Public Intellectual

The reasons for starting with this rather broad canvas of commentary is that issues affecting educational research (whether as public intellectual work or not) are clearly affected by the current changes in the global economy.  As education and schooling are themselves re-positioned and re-stratified in the new global work order, so inevitably, research on education is itself re-positioned.  In such a situation, even if people go on researching as they researched before their work may have been re-positioned: sometimes so as to substantially shift or even invert the relevance and effect of that work.  The recent changes in the global economy then work at a number of levels - at levels of economic production, there is a much analysed crisis of modernisation and a consequent need to explore and interrogate the condition of post-modernity but at levels of cultural production, it is to the above crisis of positionality that we should be turning.  A crisis of positionality arises at this point because high modern capital has successfully reconstituted and repositioned the social relations of production: the newly deregulated circulation of capital globally substantially confines and re-positions those social movements that have sought to tackle issues of redistribution and inequality.  Welfare states, national trade unions, progressive movements and so on can be re-defined by a press of the button which moves capital from "intransigent" national and local sites (economically inefficient sites) to more malleable sites (economically competitive sites).  Global capital than has twin triumph to celebrate: the emasculation of social democratic/egalitarian movements within the western world and the culminating destruction of alternative systems of production and distribution in the communist world.  These twin triumphs leave would-be public intellectuals in a precarious and rudderless position.  Detached from past histories of action for social justice and divorced from hard won visions of alternative futures.  In the crisis of positionality there is no firm ground to stand on and to remain in the same place is to risk ones position being changed nonetheless.

Locating the Public Intellectual

In locating Lawrence Stenhouse's role as public intellectual and in scrutinising the changing terrain of the last 30 or so years, it is, I think, particularly instructive to examine the trajectory of the Centre for Applied Research in Education.  The Centre was founded in 1970 by Stenhouse but grew out of the Humanities Curriculum Project which had begun in 1967.

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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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