Between Capitalism and Democracy
Educational Policy and the Crisis of the Welfare State
AUTHOR: Svi Shapiro
PUBLISHER: Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
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This volume of radical studies in the sociology and politics of education specifically addresses educational policies and the crisis of the welfare state--one of the central political facts of our time--and opens up new areas in the critical social analysis of education. Shapiro explores the interconnection between educational policy and the structure of economic, political, and cultural life in the United States, arguing that in spite of its practical and ideological autonomy, the educational region is not immune to the kinds of disruption and dislocation found elsewhere in society. Minority discrimination, urban decay, and the uneven results of the labor market as well as other conditions force new issues and questions onto the ideological policy agenda. However, in his cogent assesment of the state of public discourse, Shapiro discovers an absence, with one important exception, of reference to critical themes in mainstream political debate. He delineates the displacement into the educational area of crises that confront the lumpen class in America and that are experienced as economic deprivation, political disempowerment, and cultural disintegration and then speculates as to why a political agenda that speaks to the interrelatedness of the social crisis and the educational crisis remains unconstructed.
The bulk of the eight chapters study a proposed political agenda for education that is resonant with the cultural concerns and social needs of subordinate and intermediary groups--a left agenda--that addresses three key areas: first, the crisis of values and meanings that consumption capitalism makes inevitable; second, the sense of disempowerment experienced by both subordinate and intermediary groups in American society; and finally, the issue of social justice based on the author's creatively expanded definition of the issues inherent to this concept including hunger here and abroad, the distribution of wealth and economic power, inadequate supply of shelter and medical care, and infant mortality. This important work with its invaluable analyses and proposals should be read by those concerned with the possibilities of radical intervention in public education during a period of conservative restoration. Must reading for students and scholars concerned with both the social analysis and critical study of education.
PUBLICATION DATE: 3/8/1990