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February 10 , 2009

Knowledge and Identity

Concepts and Applications in Bernstein's Sociology


What in the digital era is knowledge? Who has knowledge and whose knowledge has value?

Postmodernism has introduced a relativist flavour into educational research such that big questions about the purposes of education have tended to be eclipsed by minutiae. Changes in economic and financial markets induce a sense that we are also experiencing an intellectual credit crunch. Societies can no longer afford to think about the role of education merely in relation to national markets and national citizenry. There is growing recognition that, once again, we need big thinking using big theoretical ideas in working on local problems of employability, sustainability and citizenship.

Drawing on aspects of Bernstein’s work that have attracted an international following for many years, the international contributors to this book raise questions about knowledge production and subjectivity in times dominated by market forces, privatisation and new forms of state regulation. The book is divided into three sections:

  • Part one extends Bernstein’s sociology of knowledge by revitalizing fundamental questions, such as: what is knowledge, how is it produced and what are its functions within education and society in late modernity? It demonstrates that big theory, like big science, provides immense resources for thinking ourselves out of crisis because, in contradistinction to micro theory, we are able to contemplate global transformations in ways which otherwise would remain unthinkable.
  • Part two considers the new, hybrid forms of knowledge that are emerging in the gap opened up between economic markets and academic institutions across a range of countries. Bernstein said in the 1970s that schools cannot compensate for society but we might now ask: can universities compensate for the economy?
  • Part three adds new conceptual tools to the understanding of subjectivity within Bernstein's sociology of knowledge and elaborates conceptual developments about pedagogic regulation, consciousness and embodiment.

This book will appeal to sociologists, educationists and higher educators internationally and to students on sociology of education, curriculum and policy studies courses.

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