03 SES 04 A, Can Educational Knowledge Be Powerful? Part 1
Symposium to be continued in 03 SES 06 A
In this paper we consider the state of knowledge production in the discipline of education in South Africa, by exploring the interface between the disciplines of economics and education in relation to the question of educational inequality. We argue that a tradition of economics of education followed by educational research is emerging in South Africa which is more rigorous and evidence-based than in the past. Within this tradition, a dominant economics view theorizes inequality as predominantly the result of wage inequality, which in turn depends on access to quality education. The chronic poverty and the conditions associated with it are left behind. In contrast with the dominant narrative today, during the 1970s and 1980s educational research in South Africa was focused on the critique of the political, social, and economic oppression of apartheid and located the massive educational inequalities, predominantly racially based, in those conditions. Here, a key claim was that apartheid schooling was in the main for the purpose of reproducing a certain kind of labour. Today, changing curriculum, management, and instructional practice are seen as the main vehicles for educational change. This is influenced both by economists who argue that taking into account various measures of poverty and resources, some 30% of the performance of schools remains ‘unexplained’ and must be based on in-school differences, and educational research which criticizes neglect of the epistemic power of knowledge by an over-emphasis on its social power. Large-scale educational interventions have demonstrated only small differences (albeit, statistically significant) to educational change—and researchers continue to show, through large data sets, a bi-modal distribution of school quality that mirrors the harsh economic reality of South Africa. This questions not the truth-claims of research instance-by instance, but the overall explanatory power of the body of research in a country that has the worst levels of inequality in the world. The paper therefore offers support to the concern that certain traditions of enquiry are becoming marginalized in educational research, with implications both for the explanatory power of the discipline, and its policy emphasis. We suggest that this could stem from some or all of the following factors: inherent limitations to the boundary of the discipline of education; a sense of helplessness about chronic poverty in society and what educationalists can do; the ways in which educational economists and policy makers have formed an alliance driven by the dominance of a particular tradition in economics.
Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity (2nd ed.). New York: Rowman and Littlefield. Demaine, J. (1981). Contemporary Theories in the Sociology of Education. Springer. Hordern, J. (2017). Bernstein’s sociology of knowledge and education (al) studies. In G. Whitty &J. Furlong (Eds.), Knowledge and the study of education: An international exploration (pp. 191–210). Didcot: Symposium. Ladd, H F (2012). Presidential Address: Education and Poverty: Confronting the Evidence. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 31(2): 203-227. Lawn, M. & Furlong, J. (2009). The disciplines of education in the UK: between the ghost and the shadow. Oxford Review of Education, 35 (5): 541–552. Moore, R. (1996). Back to the Future: the problem of change and the possibilities of advance in the sociology of education, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 17:2, 145-161. Shalem, Y. & Allais, S. (2019). Polarity in sociology of knowledge: the relationship between disciplinarity, curriculum, and social justice, The Curriculum Journal, DOI: 10.1080/09585176.2018.1557534 van der Berg, S., Spaull, N., Wills, G., Gustafsson, M., & Kotze, J. (2016). Identifying Binding Constraints in Education. Research on Socio-Economic Policy Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.