Call for Chapters: Bourdieu, curriculum studies, education policy and reform


Co-editors James Albright (The University of Newcastle, Australia) and Shaun Rawolle (Deakin University)

Revisiting the Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989)

Call for chapters

This proposed book aims to bring together scholars that take as their starting point Bourdieu’s (1984) theoretical and empirical contributions to curriculum studies and his pragmatic recommendations for education policy and reform.

In 1984, responding to Mitterrand’s (the first socialist president of France’s Fifth Republic) commissioned reports on the future of education, Bourdieu led colleagues (comprised of leading College de France professors) to author a set of guiding principles for educational change. First published as Proposition pour l’ensignment de l’avenir (College de France, 1985) and later as the Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989), the principles set out a rational basis to restructure the curricular division of knowledge; provide a new definition of the transmission of knowledge; eliminate outdated or outmoded notions; and introduce ‘new knowledge that stems from research as well as economic, technical and social changes’ (Bourdieu, 1989: 309).

At the core of these recommendations was the call for a curriculum that focused on the ‘genealogy of concepts, ways of thinking, mental structures…to give everyone the means to re-appropriate the structures of their own thinking’ (Grenfell and James, 2004: 75). Although Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989) may have had little lasting effect on the course of French educational policy, many aspects of Bourdieu’s principles for reflecting on the curriculum resonate with contemporary theoretical and pragmatic issues in the fields of curriculum studies and development.

This collection reflects on the relevance of Bourdieu and colleagues’ call for a revisioning of the curriculum, amid growing concern around the direction that education reform has subsequently taken. It invites a reconsideration of paths not taken and to draw on a broadened sociological imagination in order to challenge misrecognition of the violence and challenges education faces as a field, nationally, transnationally and globally.

We provisionally envision the collection have 7 chapters and seek potential contributors for each of the following. We are not limited to these and invite additional and alternatively frames submissions.

Chapter 1:  Understanding the historical importance of the Proposition pour l’ensignment de l’avenir (College de France, 1985) and later the Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989);

Chapter 2: Reassessing their core recommendations in light of current theoretical and pragmatic issues in curriculum studies and development;

Chapter 3: Analysing why the Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989) had little lasting effect on the course of French educational policy and, more broadly, why the academic field has had limited influence in reforming educational policy, generally;

Chapter 4: Analysing how the Principes pour une réflexion sur les contenus d’enseignment (Bourdieu, 1989) fits within Bourdieu’s empirical studies in education, culture, and economics;

Chapter 5: Debating Bourdieu’s contention that across the breadth of the school curriculum, ‘techniques or cognitive tools, which are totally indispensible in promoting rigorous and reflective reasoning’ (Bourdieu, 1989: 312) should be the focus of curricular theorising and planning;

Chapter 6: Evaluating those aspects of Bourdieu’s principles that resonate with the theoretical and practical desires for interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary education.  Bourdieu characterises school subjects are ‘interpretations’ of disciplines. As such, researchers and teachers must be mindful of the ‘logic and traditions of certain specialisms…where they are located in the curriculum’ and how each ‘contribute[s] to different thought processes’ (Bourdieu, 1989: 312). Arguing that the curriculum of the day seldom did this and, when it did, only tacitly, Bourdieu argues that transdisciplinary inquiry where teachers from various subject areas are brought together to collaborate in curriculum design may remedy this absence; and

Chapter 7: Bourdieu’s principles reflect the continental tradition of educational didactics. Didactics is broadly theorized as ‘not a normative theory…nor is it descriptive but reflective…an explication of how instructional processes in the institutionalized school may be experienced…useful as a thought model and a research model (Uljen, 1997: v). It may be interesting to English-speaking curriculum theorists to note that didactics is often broadly posited by European researchers as a science that focuses on the institutionally bounded ‘diffusion’ of knowledge (Chevallard, 1991).

For almost four decades American and, to some extent, curriculum theorising in the Anglosphere, with the exception of Bernstein (1999), has been dominated by a reconceptualist theoretical break with institutional focus on schooling and empiricism. Reconceptualism in Anglo–American curriculum has adopted broad perspectives from a wide range of philosophical, psychoanalytical, aesthetical and ethical standpoints, which runs counter to the didactics ‘down-to-earth, realistic point of departure’ (Bjerg et al. 1995: 33). Criticism has ranged from its need for greater verticality and disciplinarity (Pinar, 2007) to its loss of scientific authority and marginalization in the field of education (Ladwig, 1996). This issue invites historical, theory, and research papers that address this nexus of Anglo and Continental curriculum theorising.

Important dates and submission process

• Deadline for proposal submission: 1 December 2017 (250-500 words)
• Notification of proposal acceptance: 1 February 2018
• Deadline for full manuscript submissions: 1 September 2018
• Manuscripts returned to authors for revision: 1 November 2018
• Final manuscripts due: 1 March 2019 (6,000-8,000 words)
• Publication: 2019

Contact information:

Professor James Albright
School of Education
Faculty of Arts and Education
The University of Newcastle
Callaghan, NSW, 230

Dr Shaun Rawolle
Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Education
Deakin University
Locked Bag 2000
Geelong, VIC, 3220

Categories: Call for Papers, Sociology of Education, Uncategorized

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