Bristol Conversations in Education - Education Beyond Cultural Replication: Embracing emergentism in educational theorising

30 May 2018, 1.00 PM - 30 May 2018, 2.00 PM

Dr Deborah Osberg

Room 4.05/06, School of Education, University of Bristol, Bristol, BS8 1JA

This event is part of the School of Education's 'Bristol Conversations in Education' seminar series.

Speaker: Dr Deborah Osberg

Bourdieu and Passeron (1990) have famously argued that Education – as we currently understand it – is a system that carries an essentially arbitrary cultural scheme which is actually, though not in appearance, based on power, and that the reproduction of culture through education plays a key part in the reproduction of the whole social system. This idea is of course problematic in multicultural and democratic societies where the perpetuation of the dominant cultures, through education, can be seen as highly questionable.

While I have no argument with Bourdieu and Passeron’s sociological analysis of education, the main thrust of this presentation is that the notion of emergence does actually give us the conceptual tools to understand education as having a different political impetus altogether. I therefore use emergence to challenge the idea that education is necessarily culturally replicative.

I argue that a culturally non-replicative understanding of education becomes possible not simply because the notion of emergence gives us the tools to rethink several key aspects of education. More importantly, the notion of emergence also gives us the tools to develop a different way of understanding the process of theorising itself. This latter point about emergent theorising is absolutely central to the argument I make in this presentation. I use emergent theorising to present a culturally non-replicative theory of education.

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Emma Rossiter

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