The Place of the Social Sciences in Schools of Education: Policy, Politics, and Knowledge

This is a seminar reviewing theoretical developments in culture theory particularly as it takes seriously "education" as the fundamental human process that transforms experience into the 'arbitrary' patterns generally known as "culture"--as well as an institutionalized process in (post?-) modern polities.

My overall goal continues is to push further ideas about education as the motor of cultural production. This fall 2013, I will take a detour to develop new statements in defense of fundamental social science research as a tool to understand life in our worlds as it is actually lived in its localities (families, neighborhoods, institutions, etc.).  Over the past two decades, at least, two trends have challenged an older consensus many of us had build their career upon. There is a renewed political attack against most forms of social science research. There is also a concomitant narrowing of what is acceptable as policy research (mostly research that bears the symbolic markings of "evidence based" work to be used in "data-driven" policy). The consensus for broader approaches had evolved over a century. Many of the arguments are still sound but need to be recast and sharpened.


This seminar stands on its own but students would be well served by reading those authors who are not in the schedule this semester but which were discussed in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011.  One might also look at last year's general introduction to the seminar.

While the class gestalt will be strongly anthropological, doctoral students in linguistics, sociology, history, political science, philosophy, communication, pedagogy, etc., may also be interested. There are no specific pre-requisites. It will help if students have taken (or are familiar with the authors and topics addressed in) either of my courses Communication and Culture or Ethnography of Education. I also hope that students to have some relatively well-formed research interest about which they want to think theoretically. I will easily give permission to register to students who have taken these courses, or who have at least one year of graduate anthropology. To the others I will ask questions such as:

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