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Curriculum Studies

Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson

The Story So Far

We have entered the period of ‘authoritarian capital’, and Simpson argues that the ‘story’ is the indicator of this denouement. If this is so, the promoters of storying have strange bed fellows.

Earl and Irma, meanwhile, are still there in front of their television sets, serenely unaware of what is happening around them. Decisions which affect their lives are being taken every day in Frankfurt, Tokyo and London, but no one tells them about it. Most of the companies which advertise on television just want them to feel good so, therefore, do the people in charge of providing them with news. The freest society in the world has achieved the kind of news blackout which totalitarian régimes can only dream about (Simpson 1992, p. 9).

In one sense the enshrinement of the personal story as a central motif for knowledge transmission links up with another theme in current restructuring. Namely: the reconstruction of the middle ground in the social and economic system. By sponsoring voices at the periphery, the centre may well be strengthening its hand. Hence, empowerment of personal and peripheral voices can go hand in hand with aggrandizement and a further concentration of power at the centre. As Alan Wolfe has pointed out in his new book Whose Keeper?: "...a debate that casts government and the marketplace as the main mechanisms of social organization leaves out all those intermediate institutions that are, in fact, the most important in people's lives: family, church, neighbourhood associations, workplace ties, unions and a variety of informal organizations (quoted in Dionne 1992, p. 18)."

The current appeal to personal and ‘family values’ in the U.S. election undoubtedly is driven by a realisation of this kind of dissolution of mediating social structures. "The appeal of this vague phrase is that fundamentally it reminds people that good society depends not only, or even primarily, on their economic well-being, but also on this web of personal-social relationships that transcend the marketplace and transcend government (Rosenthal, 1992, section 4, p. 1)."

This focus on storytelling emerged early in the movies. By 1914, William and Cecil DeMille had developed a technique of storytelling that would "follow the old dramatic principles, but adapt itself to a new medium", "find its own compensations for its lack of words...to make a train of thought visible enough to be photographed (Berg 1989, p. 48)". By 1916, this had evolved to the point where a ghost-writer for Samuel Goldwyn could write, "by the time I started the Goldwyn Company it was the player, not the play which was the thing (p. 68)."

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  • Date of publication: 15/09/2005
  • Number of pages (as Word doc): 272
  • Publisher: Routledge
  • Co-author: NAN
  • Subject:
    Curriculum Studies, Narrative Theory
  • Available in:
    English
  • Appears in:
    Learning, Curriculum and Life Politics: the selected works of Ivor F. Goodson
  • Number of editions: 1
  • Paperback
  • Price of book: £27.99
  • ISBN: 978-0-415-35220-8
  • Purchase this book:
    Routledge
  • Buy used and new from: amazon