Elizabeth Rata Auckland

Politics of Knowledge in Education: Elizabeth Rata

Elizabeth Rata is an Associate Professor in the School of Critical Studies in Education, University of Auckland. She was invited earlier this year, by the Azim Premji Foundation and University to present a paper titled Epistemic Knowledge and Democratic Politics in the 2nd International Seminar on Philosophy of Education, as well as to give to give public lectures and hold interactive sessions on the politics of knowledge in education. Following is the transcript of a public lecture she delivered this May, in Bhopal.

The Politics of Knowledge in Education


I come from a very small country with a tiny population (4 and a half million) and a short history – only 6 centuries of human inhabitation and 158 years of a nationally constituted government. This makes it an honour to speak to you today – in this vast land with its huge population and its illustrious and long history of scholarship.

Today I want to talk about the politics of knowledge in education.  My purpose is to show how the political system that we have is bound up with how we approach knowledge and how we teach knowledge at school. Democracy, if it is to survive and be in sound heart requires that all citizens have access to two types of knowledge; one I refer to as epistemic, the other as social. Epistemic knowledge is the type that produces the symbolic and material resources that enable us to move into a future that can only be imagined. This knowledge is the purpose of education.

The challenge for all national education systems in democracies is how to provide equal access to knowledge when the school population contains diverse groups. I address this question by presenting it to you as a series of paradoxes: the diversity paradox, the knowledge paradox, the identity paradox, the pedagogic paradox, and the political paradox.

The Diversity Paradox

Democratic institutions and processes exist in a state of contradiction, what Immanuel Kant called the ‘strife of the dialectic’. There are many examples of this deep contradiction:

Democracy requires a universal public sphere. To achieve this means leaving our cultural identities in the private sphere of our families and communities.

Democracy recognises each of us as abstract entities – as citizens who are the bearers of equal political and legal rights. This universal identity is in direct contrast to how we are recognised by our communities. In our everyday world, we have the identities of our class, race, caste, gender, kin-group, religion. These are identities from the past and are real in a very material sense. They may be called the empirical self in contrast to the universal citizen who is the abstract self.

Democracy requires that we understand the world in a way that is counter-intuitive. The world of the abstract self is created using mental or abstract concepts such as ‘equality’, citizen’, democracy’ and so on. This counter-intuitive world is also a real world but it is a reality of symbolic objects created by the mind using the symbols of language and numbers. It is a different reality from daily material life where we understand ourselves in intuitive ways – ways that are common-sense, taken-for-granted; ways that appear ‘natural’.

Democracy faces towards the unknown future by offering a better life to people who are, paradoxically, at their most stable when secured to the past; the world of kinship, religions, and cultures that are known and trusted. In other words, our abstract self faces to the future. Our empirical self comes from the past and is our identity in the present.

If we wish to have a democratic society we must live in this paradox, in this strife of the dialectic – the peaceful conflict of uncertainty. We live in the intuitive world of everyday culture that differs from group to group and we live in the counter-intuitive world of abstract ideas that we all share. How is this possible? How can we live in a society that requires us to have two quite different, contradictory identities? One is our community or cultural identity; an identity created in the past and handed down through the generations. The other is an identity that is an idea that exists in the minds of individuals willing to share the same thought.

This abstract idea of the universal human being is difficult to understand. We don’t actually live abstract identities in our everyday lives. The reality that comes ‘naturally’ or intuitively is that of our homes, our religious centres, of cultural practices. I will refer to our knowledge of that reality as ‘social knowledge’ or ‘culture’ or ‘everyday knowledge’.

Despite the huge difference between the two ‘real’ worlds there is a way to live in their contradictions; to have both culture and universalism, both an empirical self and an abstract self. That way lies in acquiring two types of knowledge.

The Knowledge Paradox

What enables us to live in two worlds: the everyday world which requires social knowledge and the democratic world which requires counter-intuitive knowledge? By that I mean knowledge based on ideas, on abstract concepts like ‘equality’, ‘universal’, ‘free’ . . .. It is knowledge that regards our intuitive world as one of appearances, but appearances can deceive us. We ‘see’ colours but they do not really exist. The atoms that constitute life remain unseen. The earth appears to be the centre of the universe but it is not. The earth looks flat from where I’m standing but it is not. We appear to belong to separate races but we do not. In reality we are 99.9 percent the same genetically and the 0.1 percent difference represents approximately three million differences between each individual’s DNA.

To live in the real world of the intuitive and the real world of the counter-intuitive we need two types of knowledge. The first type of knowledge is social knowledge or culture. We learn this knowledge at home and in our various communities. It is knowledge from experience. It is the knowledge that accepts appearances as real and natural. It makes it possible to live in the everyday world.

The second type of knowledge which requires us to think counter-intuitively does not come from our everyday experience. It comes from ideas. It is the conceptual knowledge that is abstracted from experience. It is the knowledge that has enabled us to explain experiences and to imagine a world beyond those experiences and beneath appearances.

What makes schools such remarkable places is that they are the only places where this abstract knowledge, what I will refer to from now on as epistemic or academic knowledge, can be acquired. School is the only place where we learn how to be counter-intuitive, where we learn what cannot be learned from experience, where we learn to think the unthinkable and imagine the impossible.

What is this knowledge and how do we learn it?

It is knowledge that comes from concepts; from ideas in the mind. It builds cumulatively and vertically into systems of meaning, into epistemes, that themselves are built into larger systems of the sciences, arts, humanities, and social sciences – the disciplines through which we order and test these systems of meaning. The purpose of schooling is to teach us this epistemic knowledge.

It is the knowledge that enables us to understand things that we will never experience (although we may have experiences that fit the idea). For example:

1. A child can be taught numbers even though he or she does not actually find the symbols of numbers through experience alone. We find things that can be counted. The symbols used to do the counting of those things must be taught.

2. We all experience democracy now because previous generations who had not experienced it were able to imagine it – it was a real concept in their minds and become a real condition with material institutions, like the legal system, and processes like elections, because the idea itself existed.

The two types of knowledge rub along in contradictory ways. We acquire social knowledge or culture from experience. We acquire epistemic knowledge from the systems of meaning that we call disciplines. In school they are altered to become academic subjects.

Differentiation between two types of knowledge in this way is not recognised by the constructivist approach to teaching which has become very popular in many education systems in recent years. According to constructivism we should base the knowledge taught in school on social knowledge. Advocates for this approach say that this is the best way to provide equity and social justice to disadvantaged groups. However as I build my argument through the different dilemmas I will show that without that fundamental distinction between social knowledge and epistemic knowledge, children cannot enter the world of intellectual thought.

There is no easy transition from social knowledge to epistemic knowledge. Despite what constructivists claim, social knowledge does not lead to epistemic knowledge. The intuitive knowledge cannot produce the counter-intuitive. Each type contradicts the essence of the other. The only way from social knowledge to epistemic knowledge is to ‘interrupt’, as Rob Moore says, the familiar world of the child in order to take him or her child into the unfamiliar world of epistemic knowledge at school.

This huge and interruption has consequences for the child’s identity. That is the next dilemma.

The Identity Paradox

If academic or epistemic knowledge does not come from experience (although it is often used to understand experience), then it must be taught. Schools are the places where it is taught to most of us. But what about social knowledge – the knowledge with which children come to school? Is there a place in schools for that knowledge? According to constructivists the answer is ‘yes’. Social knowledge is the means by which the child learns to construct knowledge. It provides the material for that knowledge.

The dilemma is: What should the school do about the social knowledge which is ‘natural’ or intuitive for a child when the school’s purpose is to teach academic knowledge which is counter-intuitive? Should the school recognise the child’s empirical identity or develop his or her epistemic identity?

Increasingly there has been a strong move towards cultural diversity in education. This is based on the belief that people of different cultures think and behave differently and that those fundamental differences must be recognised at school if the child is to succeed. Well it is true that people of different cultures think and behave differently. I do not deny this. But it is only true when we refer to social knowledge or intuitive knowledge – the knowledge learned from experience, from living in the everyday world.

Given our different experiences we do know different things and behave in different ways. We do have different identities. Such differences may lead to mistrust and conflict, but cultural difference is also the source of vibrancy, exoticism, and, for those within the culture, it is the source of security. Social knowledge is for cultures, religions, and groups to practise as they wish at home and in communities. It is very important knowledge but it is not the knowledge to be acquired at school.

The purpose of schooling must be to teach academic knowledge so that children are prepared for the counter-intuitive world upon which democracy and science are based. If children do not acquire this knowledge at school then where do they acquire it? Because it does not come from experience it is not acquired at home.  Children must be taught the abstract principles, concepts, and content of science, mathematics, language, music, history – all the subjects that make up the school curriculum. They must be taught the symbols (the languages, signs, and codes) that are the way to acquire those subjects. But how can this knowledge be taught when it is counter-intuitive, when it does not come from everyday common-sense, when you need to know symbols to ‘get into it’ because you can’t get it directly?

Because academic knowledge does not come from experience, but from ideas, it does not belong to any one cultural group. It is not Western knowledge, or Indian knowledge or Chinese knowledge or African knowledge, although it has its source in the thinker’s sociality. As it is separated from its source it becomes knowledge that is universal and belongs to everyone. The sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu captured this succinctly in saying, ‘the 20 year old mathematician has twenty centuries of mathematics in his [or her] head’.

However this academic knowledge sits in an uneasy relationship with social or everyday knowledge. As with democracy, epistemic knowledge and everyday knowledge lie uneasily together, in the strife of the dialectic. But, and here’s the rub, education in this epistemic or academic knowledge leads to change. Culture preserves things as they are. Education in epistemic knowledge changes things. We cannot think about the unthinkable and the unknowable without seeing our lives differently. This is what people mean when they call education subversive.

It is subversive of the tyrannies of culture. It makes the poor dream of a world where they are not excluded. It makes people question cultural beliefs that are considered unquestionable. An education system like this is one that fits with democracy. It enables us to look behind the world of appearances in order to doubt, to criticise, to judge, and to change. Epistemic knowledge and democracy go hand-in-hand. They both require a way of thinking that comes from ideas not from experience. They both use that thinking to criticise experience. They both have the potential to change experience.

This difference produces the identity dilemma. If the purpose of the school is to teach epistemic knowledge which changes people giving them an epistemic identity, if social knowledge is not included at school then how do children recognise themselves in their cultural or empirical identity? Finally, how is the epistemic self acquired?

The Pedagogic Paradox

That question about identity leads us to the pedagogy dilemma. How should epistemic knowledge be taught so that all children have access to it and to the identity changes that it brings? To achieve this, the teacher must do the impossible. He or she must teach knowledge that does not belong to the child’s experience.

The new abstract knowledge gives the child a second way of thinking; one that is unfamiliar, difficult, and not from the child’s experience. It is a way of thinking that is all in the mind, that uses symbols to represent language, mathematics, music, science, history and so on. These symbolic literacies may be familiar to middle-class children before they start school but they are often unfamiliar to children who live in poverty or belong to cultures that restrict themselves to social knowledge only. Culture-based education only makes the problem worse because it reinforces social knowledge and stops the interruption to that knowledge happening.

Counter-intuitive knowledge is difficult to grasp. This does not mean that it should not be available to all. There is a real danger in saying that because epistemic knowledge is difficult, because it requires many years at school, because it may not be relevant to the child’s everyday world, then it is only for some children and not for others. On this basis some children are included and some excluded from what Michael Young and Johan Muller (2014) call ‘powerful knowledge’. It is the knowledge that gives us power over our lives. All children in democratic societies have the right to this knowledge.

The truth is that it can be acquired by everyone; for some it takes longer, others may not reach the higher levels of complexity, but all children can be taught to think in conceptual or abstract ways. Without such thinking they are trapped in the world of the everyday, knowing only what they already know. That is the world of boundaries between groups, of ‘keeping to your own’ and seeing ‘the other’ as different, as a potential threat, even a source of violence. The ability to think in conceptual abstract ways can free us from the limitations of such experience. It gives us the power to imagine the impossible by thinking the unthinkable.

But how to teach academic knowledge to all children – the rich, the poor, the different? Countries like my own which has had a national education system since the 19th century has some useful lessons. For many years we used traditional pedagogic methods. We demanded quiet obedience from pupils. We punished those who were slow. We taught a rigid curriculum. From the 1920s we began to change. We become progressive and creative in the way we taught. By the end of the 20th century we had become so obsessed with how to teach that we lost sight of the equally important – what to teach.

In our desire to include everyone, especially children from poor and marginalised groups, we concentrated on social knowledge, on recognising the empirical identity that children brought from home. We wanted the school to feel familiar, to feel safe. We thought that if children could keep their home identities at school, if school could be more relevant, it would lead to educational achievement. It was these beliefs that led to constructivism and culturalism becoming orthodoxies in New Zealand educaiton. According to constructivism, children learn by constructing knowledge from their experiences. According to culturalism, those experiences must be grounded in the child’s culture. Both approach support each other by favouring social knowledge in the school.

Undoubtedly the intentions were well-meaning. They were in the interests of equity and social justice. But emptying out the curriculum of academic knowledge does not help the poor and marginalised. These children need more academic knowledge not less. But those who wanted a new pedagogy, and who thought, mistakenly I argue, that constructivism was that pedagogy, were half right. We did need to teach that academic knowledge in ways that make acquiring this knowledge possible for everyone.

A child needs to be able to bear the shift from her empirical identity to her epistemic identity, to bear that deep interruption, so that she learns to be equally ‘at home’ in the epistemic world of the school as in the cultural world of the home. This does not mean that her community identity is abandoned – just that it is left at the school gates to be picked up again when she leaves. The risk, and it is a risk that all communities who educate their children take on – the risk is that these contradictory identities will see her wanting to take charge of her life, even to want to change her culture. That is always and everywhere the risk of education. It is why oppressive tyrannies do not educate their people. This risk is at the heart of education’s political dilemma that I will conclude with at the end of this talk.

Here it is a pedagogic risk, one to the child’s own identity. So how then do we teach in ways that enable the shift from an empirical identity to an epistemic identity? How do we teach children to acquire knowledge that is counter-intuitive? These are pedagogic questions and constructivism was right to insist that we educators consider them.

But does having a high quality academic curriculum mean a rigid traditional curriculum? No it doesn’t. We do need a pedagogy that encourages children to be creative, to question and criticise – to be actively involved in understanding knowledge. We do need a ‘hands on’ pedagogy. For this we need teachers who know their subjects so well that they are able to arrange the teaching of ideas, from lower order to higher order in ways that maintain the integrity of the ideas. Randomly choosing topics based on a child’s interests or a teacher’s knowledge does not take children into systems of meaning. The teacher needs to teach the subject; to know which ideas are foundational, what sequence the ideas must take, what type of communication is used for those ideas, how to know what the child has understood and what has been missed, how to go back and recover that missed piece. This is the craft of teaching.

There is also an art of teaching. This occurs when a teacher brings to life, or makes real, the concepts to be taught. Because the ideas are ‘in the head’, because they are counter-intuitive or ‘unreal’ in a way, it is difficult for children to ‘see’ them as real. The teacher can teach this new reality in two ways. The first way is to select the right content to reveal the concept. The content too must come from the subject so that the integrity of epistemic knowledge is maintained. In other words, both the concept and the content belong to the episteme and belong together.

I am cautious about using social knowledge in the pedagogy.  It is true that using content from the pupil’s social knowledge may help him or her overcome the fear of leaving behind the familiar world of the everyday to enter the unfamiliar world of epistemic knowledge. Sometimes a child cannot ‘see’ the new idea because the idea is not in the everyday familiar world. In this case the teacher can ‘show’ the pupil the idea by pointing to examples from his or her everyday world that are a ‘best fit’ between the newly introduced epistemic idea and the material world of ‘things’ that the child has experienced.

For example, the very young child being taught the concept of number learns the symbols of counting. The content to be learned are the numbers 1 to 10. This abstract concept of number with these number symbols may be difficult for some children to grasp. It is here that the teacher can use examples from the world the child already knows. Stones from the river where the child plays may be counted. Members of the family may be counted. Although this is a simple example for very young children, the knowledge of mathematics does not develop unless the concept of number is understood. It appears a sensible teaching method to use social knowledge at this early stage.

However, and this is where I am cautious, the child may still see those stones as stones and not as symbols of number. Many children have difficulty moving into literacy; moving into thinking using symbols. Teachers know when that has happened. The pupil says ‘I see it now; I see what you mean’. What is seen is not the stones on the river. They had already been seen and were understood as material objects not as symbols. What is now seen, as a result of the teaching of the number symbols, is the idea that the stones can be put into an order. The order has its own pattern known by the concept ‘number’. It is the concept of number that has been grasped, not the arrangement of stones.

I would only recommend using social knowledge in circumstances when the child cannot cope with the fear that comes from moving from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Once school becomes a familiar place then I would suggest using examples that belong to the concept and content being taught, rather than examples taken from the child’s culture.

This contradiction or ‘strife of the dialectic’ between the home and the school that affects both curriculum and pedagogy has deep implications that go well beyond education. The question what is it about epistemic knowledge that gives it its subversive potential and that makes it essential for democracy takes us into the final dilemma –

The Political Paradox

I return to Immanuel Kant (1781/1993) from whom I have taken the idea of the ‘strife of the dialectic’. In a beautifully crafted dictum which links reason, morality, and politics, Kant provides us with understanding of knowledge’s liberating possibilities.

What can I know?
What ought I to do?
What may I hope?

‘What can I know?’ asks about the knowledge to be acquired by asking what is not yet known. It is to think the unthinkable, that which is not experienced and may never be experienced. It is the abstract, objective knowledge created in the epistemic structuring of concepts.

That knowledge is the foundation for the moral imperative of the second line: What ought I to do?’ The word ‘ought’ gives us choice between right and wrong.

It is a question that can be asked because the capacity to think abstractly enables us to to not only make choices, but to justify the choices we make. It is what removes us from the amoral emptiness that Hannah Arendt called “the banality of evil”. To relinquish the power to make our own judgements, to relinquish this authority to the priest, the patriarch, or the politician; to claim that we are simply ‘following orders’ or ‘going along with things’, is to exist in the banality outside reason and morality. It is to choose not to think despite the choice existing.

Kant’s third line captures the political imperative: ‘What may I hope?’ The words are directed to a future not yet known but able to be conceptualised because the individual has the ability to think about the unknown and the courage to act in accordance with those thoughts. This is the rational moral person, celebrated in all intellectual movements including, but not confined to, Ancient Greece of the 5th to the the centuries BC, the abstract philosophies of China (Collins, 2000, pp. 281) and India, especially from the 400s to the 800s (a period that Randall Collins described as the “greatest creative period of Indian philosophy” (2000, p. 224), the 9th century Islamic Mu’tazilites (Collins, 2000), the Japanese Enlightenment of the late 19th century (Macfarlane, 2002), and the Western Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Enlightenment as the spirit of abstraction, criticism, questioning and thinking the unthinkable is not a cultural process confined to some groups and not to others. Indeed it works against the traditions solidified into ‘culture’. It questions the authority of tradition used to justify inequality and injustice by imposing the authority of reason. In abstraction lies universalism.

The intellectual shift to abstraction has always been vulnerable to political forces wishing to restore culture as the authority. Our own times are no exception. Even New Zealand with its well-established political and intellectual systems is not immune to the seductive power of neotraditionalism with its desire for a return to tribalism – to the building of boundaries between ‘people like us’ against ‘people like them’.

We may reject this return of the pre-modern. The impressive weight of global technology and the wonderful technologies, many occurring right here in this city, point to more, not less modernity surely? Such inventions must mean that we are operating intellectually? If this is not modernity, we ask, what it? Yet we are mistaken to find epistemic knowledge and its liberating powers in material things.

Being technologically advanced is no protection against social knowledge or ‘culture’ providing the moral and political spheres. Kant’s dictum embraces the intellectual, the moral, and the political – progressive modernity requires the interdependence of all three elements. Jeffrey Herf (1984), in speaking of Germany in the 1920s and 30s called the combination of advanced technology and reactionary politics ‘reactionary modernism’, quoting Goebbels ‘steel-like romanticism’ to capture the new arrangement of the parts. There is a danger that this can happen to any modern society. It will be a powerful blend of ‘culture’ and ‘technology’; a ‘virtual romanticism’ to justify inequality and privilege. It will be technology without democracy.

The idea that an educated population automatically means a progressive society cannot be assumed.  Fascism justified by romanticised tradition is always an option.

What can be done? We can look to the type of knowledge that the education provides if we wish to choose between fascism and progressivism.

What is required of knowledge for it to support democracy? Both types of knowledge, social knowledge and epistemic knowledge, are intimately bound up with politics, but it is epistemic knowledge that is tied to democratic politics. A population without access to this knowledge, with social knowledge only, is vulnerable to sectarian politics, to a politics structured by religious, race, and caste.

Democracy and knowledge are the systems by which we organise human life. Epistemic knowledge is the organisation of our intellectual life. Democracy is the organisation of our political life. It is not surprising that these two systems wax and wane at the same time. The structures, processes, and purposes are the same and both are characterised by ‘the strife of the dialectic’.

Both systems have these features:

Systems and methods for criticism and accountability
The principle of peaceful dispute

The use of abstract concepts as propositional tools. This means that the world is understood using abstract concepts. For example, in democracy the individual has the abstract status of citizen, not the empirical status of kinship or caste. In epistemic disciplines, abstract concepts of the person are used to explain the empirical circumstances of peoples’ lives. For example, in health, the abstract notion of sanitation is used to make decisions about the health of a given population. In sociology, the divisions in society are used to explain the distribution of wealth. In political science, the nature and type of political institutions are critiqued according to the principles of the polity itself. This means that democratic societies are criticised according to the principles of equality, liberty, and fraternity.

For democracy to take root and flourish in a population, people must be educated in epistemic knowledge. In this way they have the intellectual means to think abstractly and objectively, to criticise and make judgements on the basis of principles, using conceptual logic, and not on the basis of loyalty to a social group or unquestioned belief.

Socio-cultural knowledge does not contain the strife of the dialectic as its structuring principle. This type of knowledge is based on belief, on faith, and works because it does not allow contradictions. You grow up in a certain family and community; share in its religious and cultural beliefs. This is your common-sense understanding of the world. To doubt this is to doubt what made you who you are. And yet when you go to school and are initiated into epistemic knowledge you enter into a world where doubt, criticism, and judgement are essential. These are the methodological tools of epistemic knowledge.

In addition, the type of knowledge you encounter does not come from experience. It is independent of experience.

This is the great paradox faced by all education systems in democratic nations. How do we teach a curriculum based on epistemic knowledge to children who are embedded in social knowledge? It is a political matter. Those students who develop epistemic knowledge, and it is a cumulative process that needs to start when a child is young; these children who have the two types of knowledge from an early age –who can think conceptually and counter-intuitively as well as using everyday knowledge – are greatly advantaged. They live in the two worlds of the home and the world, the local and the universal.

For the others, epistemic knowledge is a ‘foreign country’. Many do not travel there – and these are usually children of the working class, the poor, and the marginalised. Yet poverty does not take away the right and the potential for intellectual growth.

Epistemic knowledge is as much a political resource as an intellectual one. Thinking in abstract objective ways enables us to conceptualise what society is and what it might be. Democratic politics is the enactment of those ideas as social solidarity is created in a population that does not share a common past but is committed to a common future. The problem is this: How to teach epistemic knowledge so that all children have access to it? That knowledge interrupts social knowledge. Becoming intellectual rebounds back on culture. For those who wish to use culture in the service of reactionary politics, such education is dangerous.

The 21st century political economy of global financial capitalism and its regulatory politics of neoliberalism has weakened democratic nations. It has also weakened the symbolic resources used to create those nations’ collective representations and to build social solidarity. The humanities, arts, and social sciences suffer the most from the localisation of people into primordial groups. Yet those disciplines provide the raw material for the progressive modern nation. Their task is to move society beyond the traditional sectarian divisions of ethnicity, religion, and caste by creating the ideas, symbols, and institutions that justify and strengthen democracy.

Concluding remarks

My purpose today has been to argue for equality in education by providing equal access to what does bring educational success. This is access to epistemic knowledge. This is the knowledge that has a much wider purpose than educational success. It is the purpose of education because it develops a way of thinking that enables individuals to become more intelligent. By that I mean they are not tied to the world they already know. It is enabling people to think the unthinkable and imagine the impossible. Epistemic knowledge is the basis of science. It is also the basis of democracy.

Without such epistemic knowledge children grow up locked into the limits of the known. With access to that knowledge, they can not only think the not yet known but demand to live a more humane life in a progressive society and, justify that right. That is the politics of knowledge – all in Kant’s three lines:

What can I know?
What ought I to do?
What may I hope?


This is a transcript of a public talk delivered by Elizabeth Rata and has been reproduced here for educational purposes. You may also like to see her article Let’s Bring Knowledge Back into Schools.

The ideas in this talk were developed in two recent books. They are:

Rata, E. (2012). The Politics of Knowledge in Education , London & New York: Routledge.
Barrett, B. & Rata, E. (Eds.), Knowledge and the future of the curriculum: International studies in social realism. Houndmills, England: Palgrave Macmillan.


Arendt, H. (1963). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. New York: Penguin Classics.

Bourdieu, P. (2004). Science of science and reflexivity. Cambridge, U.K.: Polity Press.

Collins, R. (2000). The sociology of philosophies: A global theory of intellectual change.. Cambridge, Mass: The Belknap Press.

Habermas, J. (2001). Contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. In S. Seidman & J. C. Alexander (Eds.),  The new social theory reader, contemporary debates (pp. 31–38). London: Routledge.

Herf, J. (1984). Reactionary modernism: Technology, culture and politics in Weimar and the Third Reich. Cambridge University Press: U.K., Cambridge.

Moore, R. (2013). Basil Bernstein: The Thinker and the Field. London & New York: Routledge.

Kant, I. (1993). Critique of pure reason. London: Everyman. (Originally published 1781).

Macfarlane, A. (2002). The making of the modern world. Houndmills, U.K.: Palgrave.

Priestley, J. (1995). The organization of scientific research. In I. Kramnick (Ed.), The portable enlightenment (pp. 69–73). New York: Penguin Books. (Originally published 1769)

Photo Credit for Featured Image: The University of Auckland

Leave a Reply