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Social Theories of Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 731 words Published: 29th Aug 2017

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  1. This thinking paper will examine Brookfield’s critique of the above article, examining what is critical about critical theory and in turn critical theory’s analysis to the repositioning of that Ideology.

Establishing that Ideology is a key concept in Critical Theory, Brookfield’s further interpretations extended to the thoughts of leaders in the field to identify and oppose the Ideological forces and social processes that oppresses them. Recognising the art of manipulation the dominant ideology can use, at the same time identifying contradictions that produce possibilities for resistance and emancipation, to break free from unequal structures in order to create a more inclusive democracy.

Brookfield believes Marx’s Capitalist and Bureaucratic Rationalities acted as a catalyst to revolutionise social change “Marx underpinned the intent of critical theory to act as a catalyst for revolutionary social change.” (Brookfield, 2001) and how dominant relationships that existed played a role in the reproduction or fostering by the ruling class, of the social structures and education of people to believe and act in certain ways, thus fundamentally conditioning of the human consciousness’s. People did not know why they were doing it but they did it anyway!

Brookfield continued to interpret the writings of Horkheimer identifying his rudiments of critical theory, focussing to abolish the exchange economy of capitalism that dominates social processes, in order to set some people free from oppression and reframe itself to formalised or subjective reasoning, of what he considers to be Traditional Theory. 

Horkheimer suggest that as soon as a particular thought or a way of doing something has been suggested by the powers that be, we forget thinking for ourselves and lose our capacity to reason.

Eagleton’s view that Ideologies are not false but are conditions that continue to gain acceptance because individuals recognise them as being true, from their experiences. Thus engaging with their needs and requirements that they already possess. If we believe we must not grumble, shrug our shoulders and get on with it, then the majority principle of the system is safe. Eagleton quotes: The study of Ideology is among other things an inquiry into the ways in whichpeople maycometoinvestintheirownunhappiness”(Brookfield, 2001)

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Brookfield acknowledged a deeper understanding of Ideology with the use of empirical writings in Althussers essay “Ideology and Ideology State Apparatuses” in which two types of socialisation agencies evolved – Repressive State Apparatuses (such as Police, Military, Prison Guards and Teachers) and Ideological State Apparatuses (such as Family, Church, Educational Systems, Media and Politics.) which exist mainly in civil societies but being controlled by the Repressive State Apparatuses. With this in mind, one does not operate without the other – exercising Hegemony. For example, the Educational System. In contrast to Marx, Althusser suggests People did know why they were doing it but they did it anyway!

Lastly, through Brookfield interpretations Gramsci’s concept of Hegemony was explored. He identified how adult learners, on entry into and currently in education, are active participants of prior knowledge, beliefs, experiences and values. Thus possessing their own Ideologies and willing in their own oppression. Adult Educators persuade to challenge dominant Ideologies that are exercised through the art of manipulation, the all persuasive nature of negotiation, powerful yet adaptable but still remaining in place.

Hegemony emphasises the way people learn to embrace willingly beliefs and practices. These practices that work against their own best interests and the interests of others who have power over us. It also allows for the possibility of opposing elements emerging, of counter hegemony. We do this as adult learners when we negotiate extensions for assessments.


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