Educating Democracy: conjunctures in the long revolution (FORUM 3)

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Publication date: September 1, 2014

STEWART RANSON

Democratic comprehensive education has been the target of neo-liberal governments – Conservative and New Labour – for thirty years. The project of the present right wing regime Coalition is to complete the demolition. The question before the social democratic tradition is thus to ask whether Raymond Williams’ historic ‘long revolution’ unfolding over a century and more, to create an educated democracy, is now halted or even lies in ruins. Only an analysis of this longue durĂ©e can enable understanding of how we are to remake the future. Drawing upon Brian Simon’s extraordinary history I construct different formations of education governance since the mid nineteenth century. An emergent theory of transformation is then proposed such that reforms to education and democracy need to be understood together as responses to periods of structural change, conjunctures, that generate crises and lead to political settlements: these expand but regulate participation and opportunity in order to preserve as far as possible prevailing traditions of power. The reform of education lies at the centre of the regulation of democracy.

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