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Education and Power

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In this second edition, Michael Apple re-examines his earlier arguments and reflects on what has happened in education since the publication of the last edition.


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In this second edition, Michael Apple re-examines his earlier arguments and reflects on what has happened in education since the publication of the last edition.

30 review for Education and Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    When I started out looking at the sociology of education one of my lecturers told me that the easiest way to know if someone was a Marxist was to flick to their reference list at the end of their book/article/essay and to see if they quote Michael Apple. This book is a particularly Marxist one, even by Apple’s standards. A lot of the sociology of education that I’ve been interested in has revolved around the question of how the various social classes go about reproducing themselves? Why is it so When I started out looking at the sociology of education one of my lecturers told me that the easiest way to know if someone was a Marxist was to flick to their reference list at the end of their book/article/essay and to see if they quote Michael Apple. This book is a particularly Marxist one, even by Apple’s standards. A lot of the sociology of education that I’ve been interested in has revolved around the question of how the various social classes go about reproducing themselves? Why is it so hard for someone who is born in one social class to end up in another social class? The problem here, of course, is that the myth of Western societies is that of merit. That is, we are all told that you will end up in life were your hard work and effort will take you. If you don’t get very far, that is because you just haven’t put in the ‘hard yards’. Which, of course, is more or less nonsense, since pretty well the best predictor of where you will end up in the real race of life is where you started. There is some reason to believe that this is changing, but changing for the worse – growing inequality is meaning that very many more people are shifting to the bottom of the pile as our society becomes one of twin peaks, rather than of a gradual incline. In the 1960s people like Bourdieu (who even wrote a book called ‘Reproduction’ – well, it was actually called Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture, but no one ever calls it that, just Reproduction) and Bernstein set about constructing theories about how social reproduction occurred and how this was mostly due to processes in society that applied a particular cookie cutter to the various members of the next generation. Mostly education was designed to recognise those who were already advantaged and to make those not so advantaged appear like fish out of water. So much so that they would just give up and blame themselves for not ‘having what it takes’. The system then encouraged what Gladwell calls in his Outliers The Matthew Principle – that is, where those that have are given even more and where those without have even the little that they had taken from them. Apple’s problem with all this isn’t that it’s not what happens in society. Reproduction clearly happens – it would be hard to find someone who would argue the opposite. A hidden curriculum clearly operates, and in so doing does its work of making sure who will get ahead and who shall not. But Apple is a Marxist – and one of the things Marx understood about the history of all hitherto existing society was that that history was the history of class struggle. That is, no matter how much Marx might have said that the ruling ideas of a particular age were those of the ruling class of that age – he also knew that those ruled over constantly faced contradictions in their very existence and life experiences that meant that the ruling ideas of their age caused them friction and discomfort. Reproduction could never be the whole story, otherwise all change would be impossible – and Marxism is premised on the idea that change is the only absolute. So, the fascination with reproduction (that is, with the conservative side of the contradiction – the side that seeks to conserve the existing order) can only be, from a Marxist perspective, half the story. And, since it is conservative, it must also be the least interesting half. What is it, then, that an educator can and should do to help facilitate change? Change that makes education more equal, more accessible and especially useful to those who receive it? That is, particularly those most disadvantaged by our society. It would be fair to say that many of the books that Apple has written following this one seek to address pretty well exactly those questions. And while I think he is surely right in focusing on the positive things people can do to bring about change – particularly in education, which is (or ought to be) one of the more optimistic areas of human endeavour, I can’t help (being Irish and therefore fundamentally pessimistic by disposition, if not also by nature) being often overwhelmed by the sheer force of the reproductive power of systems. This book, then, is useful for someone like me, that is, someone who often – in the two-sided coin toss that is sociology between agency and structure (free will on one side and constrained action on the other; conservation vs change) – tends to exaggerate the reproductive power of systems and to underestimate our ability, those of us under the lash, to do something positive in the fight. Hopefully, when I need to remember that things can and must change and that that change will be brought about by people working together in response to the unfairness of reproduction and a system so heavily stacked against them – I will think of this book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Si Lee

    Despite it's age, this book remains of contemporary relevance. In fact, it is fascinating to see the same political themes being played out that were rehearsed in the 1980s. Insightful reflections that should be reviewed by any left orientated educator.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Derek

    There are some good ideas in this book, but the way it's written makes them totally inaccessible. Writing like this makes me appreciate the APA's current guidelines. This book is chock full of sentences that start with "That..." and "Thus..." and tons of name-dropping. Ugh.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Esra

  5. 5 out of 5

    Liz Polding

  6. 5 out of 5

    David Chacón

  7. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Stoetzel

  8. 4 out of 5

    Huseyin Dogan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sam Diener

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jack and April Reynolds

  11. 5 out of 5

    Annelise Guest

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erendira

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sweeney

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joe Moss

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bilal Y.

  16. 4 out of 5

    The Baron

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matt Dearmon

  18. 5 out of 5

    Krainfo

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shayna

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kyaw Win Tun

  21. 5 out of 5

    AARON E SILVERS

  22. 4 out of 5

    Haroon Kharem

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brian J. Farester

  26. 4 out of 5

    Max Vanderheyden

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tolga Ulusoy

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sílvia Ferreira

  29. 5 out of 5

    Juny Montoya

  30. 4 out of 5

    rarasekar

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