Monday, February 01, 2010

antonio gramsci, schooling and education

The Notebooks did not find a publisher until the 1970s. The central and guiding theme of the Notebooks was the development of a new Marxist theory applicable to the conditions of advanced capitalism.

Turin has been described as the red capital of Italy at the time Gramsci arrived there. It was home to the most advanced industry in the country and above all to FIAT

By the end of the First World War, 30% of Turin’s population were industrial workers. in 1919, there began a movement for the occupation of the factories and the setting up of factory councils to run them

Gramsci became the first
  • to work with the problems of revolutionary change in 20th century Western European society and the first
  • to identify the importance of the struggle against bourgeois values ie an ideological-cultural struggle.

Gramsci’s significance for informal education lies in three realms
  • First, his exposition of the notion of hegemony provides us with a way of coming to understand the context in which informal educators function and the possibility of critique and transformation.
  • Second, his concern with the role of organic intellectuals deepens our understanding of the place of informal educators.
  • Last, his interest in schooling and more traditional forms of education points to the need not to dismiss more traditional forms. We will look at each of these in turn.

Ideological Hegemony

What he found unacceptable was the traditional Marxist view of how the ruling class ruled. "ideology" is closely tied to the concept of power, which Giddens defines "shared ideas or beliefs which serve to justify the interests of dominant groups"

Its relationship to power is that it legitimises the differential power that groups hold and as such it distorts the real situation that people find themselves in.

The traditional Marxist theory of power, force and coercion.

Gramsci felt subtle but pervasive forms of ideological control and manipulation that served to perpetuate all repressive structures

There are two forms of political control:
  • domination, direct physical coercion
  • hegemony, both ideological control and consent
In the long run, it had to have popular support and legitimacy in order to maintain stability

Hegemony is an entire system of values, attitudes, beliefs and morality that has the effect of supporting the status quo in power relations. An 'organising principle', diffused by the process of socialisation into every area of daily life

To the extent that this prevailing consciousness is internalised by the population it becomes part of what is generally called 'common sense' so that the philosophy, culture and morality of the ruling elite comes to appear as the natural order of things

Marx’s basic division
  • a base represented by the economic structure
  • a superstructure represented by the institutions and beliefs prevalent in society

Gramsci divided the superstructure into those institutions that were overtly coercive and those that were not
  • The coercive, government, police, armed forces and the legal system are state or political society
  • The non-coercive, churches, the schools, trade unions, political parties, cultural associations, clubs, the family, civil society

schools could fit into both categories
  • coercive (compulsory education, the national curriculum, national standards and qualifications
  • and the others are not (the hidden curriculum)

Gramsci's division then is
relations of production (capital v labour)
state or political society (coercive institutions) and
civil society (all other non-coercive institutions)

This provided an understanding of why European working class had failed to develop revolutionary consciousness after the First World War and had instead moved towards reformism which meant tinkering with the system rather than
overthrowing it

more subtle. to explain how the ruling class ruled. if Gramsci was correct
ruling class maintained by the consent of the the people and used its coercive
as a last resort

To break this an ideological bond between the rulers and the ruled. The answer
to build up a ‘counter hegemony’. structural change and ideological change as part of the same struggle, labour process was at the core of the class struggle, but ideological struggle had to be addressed and to develop a consciousness that allowed them to question their political and economic masters right to rule

It was popular consensus in civil society that had to be challenged. This was not easy. Ideological hegemony meant that the population accepted as ‘common sense’. They may have complaints about the way things were run or have ideas of improvements or reforms

but the basic beliefs and value system underpinning society were seen as either neutral or of general applicability in relation to the class structure of society. Marxists would have seen people constantly asking for a bigger slice of the cake when the real issue was ownership of the bakery.

Organic Intellectuals

intellectual as a crucial, creating a counter hegemony, required mass participation. It had to be the work of the majority of the population conscious of what they were doing. Lenin was not the model suitable, mass consciousness was essential and the role of the intellectual was crucial.

not all are intellectuals by social function. There are two types of intellectuals

Traditional do regard themselves as autonomous and independent of the dominant social group and are regarded as such by the population at large, such as clergy, men of letters, the philosophers and professors. They are conservative, allied to and assisting the ruling group in society.

Organic intellectual, grows organically with the dominant social group, the ruling class, and is their thinking and organising element. It is through this group that the ruling class maintains its hegemony.

The question is how to produce a counter hegemony, upsetting the consensus
countering the ‘common sense’ view of society

Working class movement should produce its own organic intellectuals. All men were intellectuals

people have the capability and the capacity to think. The problem was how to harness those capabilities and capacities.

Gramsci assisting in the creation of organic intellectuals from the working class and winning traditional intellectuals. L’Ordine Nuovo (New Order), subtitled "a weekly review of Socialist culture". This journal came out at the same time huge spontaneous outbreak of industrial and political militancy that swept Turin in 1919 mirrored events throughout the industrial world that shook the very foundations of capitalist society

Of fundamental importance, ideological struggle, consciousness raising but must aim at consciousness transformation, socialist consciousness. It must arise from working lives. grounded in everyday life, active participation in practical life, as constructor, organiser, "permanent persuader" and not just a simple orator…"

working class intellectuals, counter hegemony. link theory with practice. This was a direct counter to fascism and Stalinism, open and non-sectarian

A belief in the innate capacity of human to understand their world and to change it. "is it better to "think", without having a critical awareness, … or, on the other hand, is it better to work out consciously and critically one’s own conception of the world?". He wanted revolutionaries to be critical and made it clear that "the starting point of critical elaboration is the consciousness of what one really is …".

informal educators, neighbourhood, local community, has a commitment to that neighbourhood, they develop relationships, part of the community

"They can strive to sustain people’s critical commitment to the social groups with whom they share fundamental interests. Their purpose is not necessarily individual advancement, but human well-being as a whole"
Gramsci on Schooling and Education

No comments: