LZ Thanks to Richard P, Judy H, for making this seminar possible. We’re very pleased to be participating in this event that inaugurates a series. We’re pleased also to be sharing the seminar time with Michael, whose work we’ve read over many years. We look forward to a rich sharing and exchange of thought. Three authors; 2 presenting today.
1.5 min – LZ
1.5 min - LZ One thrust of SR ‘correction’ of prior tendencies is that there has been too much attention since the 1960,s and beginning with Marxist critique, to curriculum as an epistemological locus of ‘knowledge of the powerful’. Against this, SRs counter-pose that there is ‘powerful knowledge’ that is not simply the knowledge of elite social-structural positions but carries more ‘universal’ validity or reliability. This more universal validity derives from such ‘powerful knowledge’ emerging as the product of hard work of specialised disciplinary knowledge networks and communities. This does not guarantee a pure or final ‘objectivity’. The name ‘Social Realism’ indicates two things about knowledge that SRs want to claim as ‘best’ – as the ‘most powerful’ knowledge – for curriculum: (1) that any knowledge is socially produced by human actors, and therefore never infallible, fully objective or finally resolved; however, (b) the hard work of disciplinary expertise gets knowledge progressively closer to ‘objective truth’, and so is ‘better knowledge’ than any other form of knowledge (hence, the ‘realist’ part of the term ‘social realism’). As we’ll see later in our presentation, SR’s push this argument that there is a ‘powerful knowledge’ that is not tarnished by ‘knowledge of the powerful’ to a degree where there is just about negation of concern for any problem of elite ‘cultural capital’ – ‘the knowledge that has power’ – as dominating curriculum, and needing to be provided to those who do not acquire it through family inheritance.
0.5 min - LZ Another knowledge distinction that SRs make, in valorising ‘powerful knowledge’ for curriculum, is that that everyday life knowledge does not offer the ‘objective’ and ‘truthful’ trustworthiness and empowerment to any group, compared to what the more university ‘powerful knowledge’ of disciplinary expert communities offers. Everyday knowledge is too local and contingent, too horizontally fragmented and ‘commensensical’ rather than vertically integrated, abstractive, and generalisable to offer systematicity of thought that, conceptually, generates explanatory power to understand the world (including the ‘everyday’ world).
0.5 min - MB We have so far flagged two key distinctions between types of knowledge, which are binary distinctions in the sense that one side of the binary is valorised, in sharp distinction from the other which is seen as not part of the ‘school code’ as far as curriculum goes. These binary distinctions between ‘powerful knowledge’ and, on the one hand, ‘knowledge that has power’, and on the other ‘everyday life knowledge’, associate with a number of other binaries that SR argumentation highlights, which we will cover in slides that follow.
2 min - MB SRs often cite Durkheim’s ‘historical’ observation – which, we would argue, is not simply descriptive but is value-laden in its wording – according to which all societies are structured by a binary distinction between a ‘sacred’ social plane of knowledge development, and a ‘profane’ social plane of everyday knowledge. The sacred was once actually under ‘religious’ custodianship, but in ‘modern’ societies is come under secular scientific custodianship, primarily in universities. The strong claim for ‘objectivity’ of the social production of knowledge in the ‘sacred plane’ hinges on a view of the progressive accumulation of ‘impartial’ distance from ‘everyday’ needs, uses, politics, and other ‘profane’ matters. That is, while there may be ‘partialities’ present in specialist knowledge communities of a given social place and historical time, across the vast continuum of times and places of knowledge work within disciplines – as signified in the quote here from Durkheim – such partialities are progressively transcended, and maintenance of ever greater impartiality is secured by accumulating refinement of rules, codes and methodologies for the practice of disciplinary knowledge work. This progressive accumulation of impartiality is seen to be greatest in hard sciences, less so in social and human science. (This involves a complex argument about differences in knowledge structures of different disciplines, for which we lack time in a short presentation.) We consider this trope of ‘immense cooperation’ to be very hyperbolic. It does not match the evidence of our senses as sociologists; and there are other historians and philosophers of science who disagree. We suggest it is an article of ‘faith’, not ‘truth’.
2 min - LZ SRs thus make a very strong claim for progressive impartiality of science – which we argue rests on faith in philosophical first principles, not on demonstrability. From this claim for impartiality, SR’s relegate all who would see the products of specialist disciplinary knowledge work as ‘partial’, rather than ‘universal,’ to a ‘social constructivism’ that they equate with ‘relativism’. Some, such as Elena Michelson and Gail Edwards, have argued that standpoint theory – or ‘standpoint epistemologies’ – presents a constructivism that is not relativist. Foremost among those cited are feminist philosophers of science such a Sandra Harding and Donna Haraway. The standpoint theory argument, which we find sophisticated and persuasive, is that all knowledge emerges from social-historical places and communities that are positioned in structural power relations, and never ‘free’ of the partialities of those positions, or standpoints. However, partiality of perspective is also a partial (not universal) objectivity. Hence, there is methodological possibility of ‘power-sensitive conversation’ that maps partial objectivities in relation to each other’. Such standpoint social-scientific relationalism can synthesise a ‘stronger objectivity’, which appreciates the hard work of thought and knowledge production contributed by disciplinary scientific efforts. However, it is far more humble about the limited degree – and it is a very important matter of degree – to which scientific communities can attain impartiality, and therefore the need for democratic checks-and-balances that can question scientific knowledge from a wider range of informative social spaces.
1 min – LZ We show this slide to feature a foremost Vygotskyan scholar and researcher, Luis Moll, who is a leading figure in the FoK approach that we work with as researchers who seek to develop curriculum, in schools serving power-marginsalised groups, that engages and intellectually challenges learners, scaffolding – in a dialectical way – between rich life-world FoK and and new knowledge that expands breadth and depth of thinking and ethical capacity. The total of Prof Moll’s lecture, ‘only life educates’, is a most significant challenge to SR inclinations to see life-based knowledge as not part of the ‘school code’ in terms of curriculum.
1.5 min- LZ There could not be a stronger challenge to SR dismissal of the curriculum worth, of knowledge which is based in everyday life-worlds (as against science-worlds) than this quote from Vygotsky. It is worth reading in full:. [T]here [should] exist within the very nature of the educational process, within its psychological essence … as close an interaction, with life itself as might be wished for. Ultimately only life educates, and the deeper that life … burrows into the school, the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational process. That the school has been locked away and walled in as if by a tall fence from life itself has been its greatest failing. Education is just as meaningless outside the … [life] world as is a fire without oxygen, or as breathing in a vacuum. The teacher’s educational work, therefore, must be inevitably connected with his [or her] creative social and life work. In our paper, we argue extensively and carefully for why life-world knowledge has, within it, conceptual ‘stem cells’ of far greater depth, and breadth of potential for connection across life-worlds, than are credited by SRs – or Basil Bernstein, on whom SRs draw. Here, we can only indicate that this is our view and invite you to read our paper.
1 min - LZ It is noteworthy that SRs sometimes claim Vygotsky as a forebear of their line of argument. In doing so, they stress passages from Vygotsky that reflect what here says about how Vygotsky appreciates the powers of systematicity, reflection and thought manipulation that scientific concepts offer to learners. It can be convenient to read this as suggesting that school curriculum should focus on ‘scientific concepts’ alone or primarily, not on ‘spontaneous’ concepts from life-world social spaces. However, this ignores Vygotsky’s affirmation of the importance of life-world knowledge for schooling as quoted in the previous slide – or what Moll sums up in the next slide.
1 min - LZ Moll here explicates Vygotsky’s dialectical understanding of how the spontaneous concepts of life-world emergence inter-relate and inter-fuse with scientific concepts. Both elements of the dialectic are crucial for school development of learners’ knowledge. However, we highlight that, not only are everyday concepts the conceptual fabric of knowledge development, according to Vygotsky, but scientifc concepts need dialectical interaction with everyday concepts in order to acquire meaning and significance. That is, people’s engagements with everyday conditions, wherein they ‘read the world’ – i.e. where they make sense of natural and social worlds – are the ground from whence problematics that matter for worlds of disciplinary work inhere. If connection to life-world problematics is lost, scientific conceptualisation dries up. School should be a microcosm of this connection; it must sustain, not abandon, this vital interrelation of both knowledge elements.
0.5 min - LZ We here sum up this vital curriculum dialectic; and we point up a further thread that our counter-argument to SR seeks to move into. In slides that follow, we argue that staying connected, in school, to vital problematics of living use, need and aspiration towards better futures reclaims ethical purposes for curriculum, which we argue are inseparable from curriculum knowledge work – yet SRs seem to want to separate knowledge from ethica, as another binary with a valorised and a rejected pole.
1 min – MB The previous move of our argument sought to ‘bring life-world knowledge back in, that SR seeks to keep out of curriculum purposes, as offering ‘weak grammars’ of lived experience, rather than ‘strong grammars’ of powerful knowledge. The next move of our argument focusses on how SR, in valorising ‘powerful knowledge’ for its ‘truth’ value’, while bracketing so-called life-world knowledge out of curriculum, due to its distracting ‘use’ value, effectively makes curriculum a cognitive-epistemological project, and not an ethical-axiological project. This is indicated in the above quote from Young and Muller, in which they seek to redefine Durkheim’s ‘sacred’ plane such that it enables us to apply it to curriculum as ‘social-epistemological but not social-ethical.
0.5 min – MB On this slide are some quotes from Young’s book Bringing Knowledge Back In which we have selected as illustrating the SR impulse to separate matters of ‘use’, ‘political purpose’, ‘need’, and other ‘ethically’ valenced term, from ‘truth’, ‘logic’, and other cognitive-epistemological terms, as the more ‘proper’ matters for curriculum that require strict separation of school work with science-world concepts from any dialectical inter-fusion with ‘practical’ life-world concepts.
1 min - MB In the 1950s, philosopher of science WVO Quine argued persuasively (in our view, and Nancy Fraser’s) that neither ‘fact’ nor ‘concept’ can ever be separated from the valuations of partial perspectives. Rather, all knowledge statements are inextricably infused with normative valuations. (This of course resonates with the arguments of Harding, Haraway, and other ‘standpoint epistemologists’.) In terms of how knowledge can be brought to bear on matters of social justice, Fraser – who, as a social philosopher, joins traditions of democratic pragmatism and neo-Habermasian theories of communicatve action – argues that the inherent inseparability of knowledge and normative reflection necessitates robust participatory-democratic processes of dialogue that are both inclusive in breadth and push for reciprocally informing depth – a kind of ‘powerful knowledge’ that does not pretend such knowledge is ever ‘above the fray’.
1.5 min - MB In a sophisticated declension of philosophical argument that we can only abbreviate here, Fraser derives two over-arching ‘meta-principles’ for robust justice in current conditions of globalising times where the governing of diverse lives is no longer – if it ever was – adequately regulated by nation-states within a Westphalian compact. Too many actions and decisions affect lives across boundaries that exceed units of governance, whether institutional, local, state, regional or national (etc). Fraser’s two principles are: 1) a necessity for strong inclusion of all who are subjected to a structure of decision and regulation. Fraser here addresses what she calls the question of the ‘who’ of justice; 2) interrelated to the inclusion principle, Fraser articulate an equivalent necessity for a principle of strong democracy, or ‘participatory parity’, which she sees as addrssing the question of the ‘how’ of justice’. Only if these two principles operate can decisions that affect the lives of diverse stakeholders have a chance of being both considered and fair. Applied to curriculum knowledge selection decisions, this argument for broadly inclusive and participatory-democratic checks-and-balances diverges markedly from the SR appeal to diverse stakeholders to ‘trust’ the special capacity of expert knowledge communities alone for objective universalisation that encompasses the best interests of all.
1 min - MB From Fraser’s argumentation, she articulates three ‘Rs’ of justice: redistribution, or the ‘what’ of justice; recognition, or the ‘who’ of justice; and ‘representation’, or the ‘how’ of justice. We here translate these into three questions that processes of curriculum knowledge selection must address. We have many thoughts about what we consider the most thorny of these: representation, or the ‘how’ of justice’. We don’t have time to go into these here. However, we want to underscore our ‘faith’ in the capacity – under the right democratically dialogic conditions – for depth, and indeed, ‘expertise’, of people who occupy diverse social spaces of supposedly ‘non-expert’ life.
1.5 min – LZ We here want to make the matter of redistribution – the ‘what’ of justice – more complex, in terms of curriculum, then we think either SRs or Fraser make it. To begin with, we want to underscore that, in our reading of SR argumentation, redistribution of access to ‘powerful knowledge’ is the only matter of justice-via-curriculum that is taken seriously – which, to us, is a terribly thin conception of curricular justice. Recognition questions are effectively negated by SR in the name of ‘universal’ rather than cultural located knowledge; and representation questions are disregarded in the appeal to disciplinary communities as ‘the experts’ we must trust, like doctors with our health. However, In the quotes on this slide – from Maton and Moore, and from Moore – we see a further thinness: that there is only concern to give access to ‘powerful knowledge’ which is conceived as not troubled by the arbitrary selective force of power-elite cultural capital. We argue, with curriculum sociologists such as Lisa Delpit, Michael Apple, and – most significantly, Pierre Bourdieu – that, until such time as our social lives, including in our schools, are not framed within capitalising social structures, we cannot afford to be so naïve about a ‘powerful knowledge’ that will somehow cleanse curriculum of dominant cultural arbitraries (knowledge of the powerful). This makes for a very challenging double-task of addressing the ‘what’ of redistribution.
2 min – LZ
Can Social Realism Do Social Justice? Debating the Warrants for Curriculum Knowledge Selection
Can Social Realism Do Social Justice?
Debating the Warrants for Curriculum
Lew Zipin & Marie Brennan, Victoria University, Melbourne
Presented at Sheffield Hallam University
25 September, 2015
Based on a paper by:
Lew Zipin, Victoria University, Melbourne
Aslam Fataar, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
Marie Brennan, Victoria University, Melbourne
‘Bringing knowledge back in’ to
educational attention and debate
• Academic and policy movements around the
globe to ‘bring knowledge back in’, after what
some now see as decades of too much
‘process/pedagogy’ orientation that lost regard
for matters of knowledge selection.
• Social Realism as one such movement (prominent
in South Africa; present in other Commonwealth
nations; a significant UK emergence in the work
of Michael F.D. Young and colleagues).
Overview of our presentation
• SR’s argument as we understand it.
• Challenge from standpoint theory: questioning the degree
of faith that SR places in the ‘objectivity’/ ‘impartiality’ of
• Challenge from a Vygotskyan (Funds of Knowledge)
approach: affirming the curriculum value of life-world
knowledge in dialectical interaction with disciplinary
• Challenge from Nancy Fraser’s criteria for an ethically
robust social justice framing: knowledge selection for
curriculum must not only redistribute ‘powerful knowledge’
(the ‘what’ of justice), but also inclusively recognise diverse
knowledges and values (the ‘who’ of justice); and
participatorily represent the range of stakeholders (the
‘how’ of justice).
SR binary 1: ‘Powerful knowledge’ vs.
‘knowledge that has power’
Knowledge of the powerful … has its roots in Marx’s … well-
known dictum that the ruling ideas at any time are the ideas
of the ruling class …. However, … [this] tells us nothing about
the knowledge itself …. [W]e need another concept … [that]
refers not to the backgrounds of those who have most access
to knowledge or who give it legitimacy … [but] to what the
knowledge can do or what intellectual power it gives ….
Powerful knowledge provides more reliable explanations …
for engaging in political, moral, and other kinds of debates ….
In modern societies, powerful knowledge is, increasingly,
specialized knowledge; and schooling, from this perspective,
is about providing access to the specialized knowledge that is
embodied in different knowledge domains. (Young 2008a: 14)
SR binary 2: ‘Powerful knowledge’ vs
‘everyday life’ knowledge
Bernstein’s distinction between vertical and horizontal
knowledge structures … assumes that … the codes and
practices associated with subjects and disciplines … are
designed to set the curriculum apart from the everyday
knowledge that students bring to school … [and] it is this
separation of the curriculum from everyday life that gives
the knowledge acquired through it an explanatory power
and capacity for generalization that is not a feature of
everyday knowledge tied to practical concerns…. Certain
principles for guiding curriculum policy necessarily follow
…[including that] curriculum cannot be based on everyday
practical experience. Such a curriculum would only recycle
that experience. (Young 2008b: 89)
We argue: Curriculum for social justice needs
to incorporate three kinds of knowledge
• A: Life-world knowledge that carries powerful meaning and use
value in learners’ cultural-historical identities and family/
community practices. (Vygotsky: Funds of Knowledge approach)
• B: Powerful knowledge that develops among specialist
communities of disciplinary knowledge work, carrying the use
value of cogent systematicity and explanatory power. (Social
• C: Cultural capital (knowledge that has power), the codes of which
need to be redistributed to those who do not inherit them at birth,
as they carry the exchange value of those with socially-structurally
positioned power to influence both overt and hidden curricula.
We find that Social Realism explicitly negates the value of A and the
relevance of C, while hyper-emphasising B.
SR invokes strong binary distinctions
(drawing on Durkheim/Bernstein)
• SR curriculum emphasis on ‘powerful knowledge’, as
against both ‘knowledge of the powerful’ and
‘everyday life knowledge’, relies on a set of strong
binary distinctions, valorising one side of the binary:
– sacred : profane
– impartial : partial
– objective : relativist
– generalisable : specific
– vertical (disciplinary) : horizontal (everyday)
– concern with knowledge as truth : as use
– school’s prime purpose as cognitive : cognitive-ethical
Claiming a special impartiality for
disciplinary knowledge communities:
‘A coalition of minds’
Development of ‘powerful knowledge’ in contexts of
disciplinary specialisation and expertise supposedly
guarantees a high degree of impartiality, hence
objectivity—hence ‘the best and most empowering
knowledge available’—via a ‘coalition of minds’ across
historic time and social space:
Collective representations are the product of an immense
cooperation that extends not only through space but also
through time; to make them, a multitude of different minds
have associated, intermixed, and combined their ideas and
feelings; long generations have accumulated their
experience and knowledge. (Durkheim 1967:15)
Standpoint Theory’s challenge: Not impartiality
but partial objectivities, yielding ‘stronger
• Sandra Harding: sociological relationalism—all knowledge,
including that of specialist communities, comes from partial
somewhere/s (standpoints: not the ‘God trick’ of everywhere
and nowhere) …
• … but not epistemological relativism: Standpoints of partial
knowledge are also partially objective. ‘Power-sensitive
conversation’ across different yet socially related standpoint
perspectives can map these ‘partial objectivities’, yielding
• Thus standpoint constructivism takes social science seriously.
Standpoint constructivism does not necessitate epistemological
‘relativism’, as SR advocates assert …
• … but it does mean that no work on knowledge—including in
scientific communities and networks—is immune to partialities
of perspective and power.
A Vygotskyan challenge—‘Only life educates’:
Bringing life-world knowledge back in
[T]here [should] exist within the very nature of the educational
process, within its psychological essence … as close an
interaction, with life itself as might be wished for. Ultimately only
life educates, and the deeper that life … burrows into the school,
the more dynamic and the more robust will be the educational
process. That the school has been locked away and walled in as if
by a tall fence from life itself has been its greatest failing.
Education is just as meaningless outside the … [life] world as is a
fire without oxygen, or as breathing in a vacuum. The teacher’s
educational work, therefore, must be inevitably connected with
his [or her] creative social and life work. (Quoted by Moll from
Vygotsky 1997: 345, with original italics and ‘[or her]’ added)
Scientific knowledge offers powerful
curricular value …
Vygotsky, in conceiving how learners extend knowledge
capacities in ‘the zone of proximal development’, envisions
(says Moll 2014: 34-35):
[Curriculum inter]relationship between … what he called
“spontaneous” and “scientific” concepts …. The key difference
is that scientific, or schooled, concepts … as compared with
everyday or spontaneous concepts … are acquired through, a
system of formal instruction. The observation that scientific
concepts tend to be acquired in school and everyday concepts
… out of school is not as important as the characteristic of
systematicity: the way scientific concepts form part of an
organised system of knowledge and thus can more easily be
reflected upon and deliberately manipulated.
… but only in robust inter-relation with the
life-world ‘conceptual fabric’
Everyday concepts provide the “conceptual fabric”
for the development of schooled concepts, and the
everyday concepts are also transformed through
their connection with the more systematic concepts.
Scientific concepts grow into the everyday, into the
domain of personal experience, thus acquiring
meaning and significance. However, scientific
concepts bring with them conscious awareness and
control, which Vygotsky believed to be essential
characteristics of schooling. (Moll 2014: 35)
In sum: A Vygotskyan Funds of Knowledge
approach pursues a curriculum dialectic
• As against SR’s stark binary separation, the Funds of
Knowledge approach that builds upon Vygotskyan precepts
promotes a dialectical curricular interaction:
life-world knowledge: spontaneous concept/thought
scientific knowledge: systemised concept/thought
• This appreciates knowledge as historically emergent in
situated time/space. Ethical appreciation of the use-value,
and indeed the depth, of life-based knowledge is also
affirmed. At the same time, specialised knowledge is
valued as providing systematicity and explanatory power.
Separating epistemology from ethics?
• [T]here remains the issue that … [f]or Durkheim, the
social is the moral: it is about values. Insofar as
knowledge (and the curriculum) are social, they too for
Durkheim are primarily moral issues. This makes it
difficult to use his framework to explore questions of
knowledge content and structure that are avoided by …
social constructivism. Is Durkheim right in equating
the social with the moral, even when it comes to the
question of knowledge? Or can we envision a non-
moral concept of the social? We think the answer to
the latter question must be yes … [because] issues of
the structure and content of knowledge must lie at the
heart of the sociology of the curriculum. (Young and
SR, in seeking to keep life-world knowledge out,
seeks also to keep ethical valuation out
• By locating knowledge in the history of human beings’ actions on
the external world, a dialectical approach treats knowledge as a
product of human labour … in the Marxist sense … [of] purposive
activity …. Within such an analysis, knowledge and truth, as
distinct categories referring to cause and explanations that are
not tied to political purposes, disappear. (Young 2008a:39)
• Vygotsky’s emphasis on social activity appears to preclude him
from treating knowledge as something that can be
conceptualized as separate from its uses. The importance of
being able to separate knowledge from its uses is of course
Durkheim’s key point in his critique of pragmatism. (ibid:66)
• For Durkheim .. [explanatory] power [of knowledge] could never
arise out of its usefulness in terms of satisfying specific needs.
Consequences, he argued, are inevitably unreliable criteria for
truth. The power of logic has to refer to factors that are a priori
and external to any specific human activity. (ibid:70)
Fraser’s challenge—we cannot keep ethics out:
Concept cannot be separated from value
On both philosophical (citing Quine) and historical grounds,
Nancy Fraser (2009) challenges simple trust in experto-
cratic science-from-‘above’ as able, by itself, to illuminate
complex problematics of the current (or any) historical age.
[Any] proposed accounts of the circumstances of justice are
inherently theory-laden and value-laden, which is why they are
controversial …. The task of adjudicating rival characterizations
… must … be handled dialogically, in a multifaceted practical
discourse that canvasses alternative conceptions, unpacks their
underlying assumptions, and weighs their relative merits—all in
full awareness of the internal relations between knowledge
and normative reflection. (38-39)
Pursuing robust social justice in conditions of
globalising (post-Westphalian) times
• Fraser (2009) proposes two interrelated meta-principles for
justice in globalising times:
– A strong inclusion principle: ‘all-subjected’ (who)—‘what turns
a collection of people into fellow members of a public is…their
joint subjection to a structure … that sets the ground rules for
their interaction’ [i.e. not merely those inside a ‘national’
– A strong democracy principle: ‘participatory parity’ (how)—
ways must be designed and practiced for all who are subjected
to have representational capacity to speak views, put issues on
agendas, question assumptions, become knowledgeably
informed, and receive fair hearing.
• Only if these two principles are operative can the ‘what’ of
justice be decided in ways both considered and fair.
Fraser’s 3-R dimensions of robust social justice
• Redistribution: the ‘what’ of justice; for example—
What knowledge should be selected for curriculum;
for what reasons?
• Recognition: the ‘who’ of justice; for example—
Whose cultures and identities should be included in
the mix of curriculum knowledge; and who should
• Representation: the ‘how’ of justice; for example—By
what arrangements and processes can those with
stakes in outcomes of curriculum discussion and
debate be enabled to participate in reciprocally
informing synergies of diverse ‘expertise’ leading to
curriculum selection decisions that fairly adjudicate
SR’s thin conception of curricular justice:
• We find Social Realism to treat curricular justice merely as a
‘what’ matter of redistribution; e.g. Maton & Moore:
Social realism attempts to recover knowledge in the service of
progress and social justice. The impulse underlying social realist
work is … both the creation of epistemologically more powerful
forms of knowledge and establishing the means to enable them to
be accessible to everyone. (2010: 10)
• Moore extends this argument:
SR is the appropriate framework for socially progressive sociology of
education because it secures, contra … constructivist relativisms,
strong justice claims with strong rather than weak knowledge
claims. The powerful are so not because they can arbitrarily impose
their knowledge/culture as ‘powerful knowledge/culture’, but
because they enjoy privileged access to the knowledge/culture that
is powerful in its own right. (2013: 350; italics in original)
• This just about denies the existence of culturally arbitrary
‘codes’ of cultural capital that come into power-play in
processes that recontextualise knowledge into curriculum.
Democratising curriculum for
robust social-ethical justice
1. All forms of knowledge to be included, viz:
– A: Life-world knowledge (Vygotsky: Funds of
– B: Powerful knowledge (Social Realism; Vygotsky)
– C: Cultural capital (knowledge that has power:
2. All 3 dimensions of justice, viz:
An illustrative mode: flood competency groups as
public democracy (Whatmore & Landstrom 2011).