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Narrative Theory

Life Politics: conversations about education and culture

Mediation is the Message

QUESTION: In your belief about the power of celebrating mediation and no domination is not a touch of desire?

IVOR: Yes, undeniably I hope there’s desire in every theorist.

QUESTION: But I understand that it can be a problem when we are speaking about social theory. We are not sure if that is the way things are or if that’s the way we like them to be. That can be considered a very subtle difference but it makes a difference...

IVOR: There’s a quote which I like from an English novelist called (Farrow/Farell) and he says that what he doesn’t like about intellectuals is their clinical objectivity in the world. And he says, “What I’m looking for among my academic friends and I don’t find it is a passionate objectivity”. That’s what I want, and I would never want to get to the stage where the blood in my body is not affected by passions and desires. Even at the moment of clinical objective reading. I think yes I’ll always be driven by my own life history, which is a history of desires and I would not want to sterilize the passion in my science ever. But if it led me to ignore what I saw, if desire, like so much theory, led me to ignore what I saw, then I would be worried. But I think I can control my desire enough.

QUESTION: I want to go back a little. You talked about cycles, and waves and levels. At that moment I asked you about the relationship between that sort of thinking and the role that you and other academic colleagues play in educational politics. I think it is difficult to give a single answer because in the last 30 years we can consider different periods, but, can I ask you to speak a little more about the micro, mezzo and macro levels, and the different waves and articulations?

IVOR: Well I mean the theory of micro, mezzo and macro is not a well developed theory in that sense. But it’s a sense that there is a spectrum of activity and analysis which takes you from the whole macro - if you will - into a much more contestive middle ground which I call the mezzo, where people can be seen to get to down into the micro daily level of people’s actions in classrooms or in (…) The issue for if whether it’s a level of analysis or action, is how far up into that middle ground of policy and of uses of structure of moments of domination, if you will, we can take our activity. And all I was saying, and is not a particularly profound insight, is (whatever) there are periodically different waves. You can see times when action and analysis move much further up that spectrum towards middle ground and higher ground (barriers/areas?) of definition. And how far up the public intellectual is in a sense allowed to go with his or her analysis or action. This is a function of patterns of politics and economics of that time. So that’s all I’m saying really, that there is a kind of cyclical pattern to how far up into the high ground of reform one can get in terms of activity and analysis.

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  • Date of publication: 01/05/2012
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 154
  • Publisher: Sense publishers
  • Subject:
    Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
  • Appears in:
    Life Politics: conversations about education and culture
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: $39
  • ISBN: 978-94-6091-538-3
  • Buy used and new from: Amazon