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Schooling and the struggle for social change

Education has long been central to the struggle for radical social change. Yet, as social class inequalities sustain and deepen, it is increasingly difficult to conceptualise and understand the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. In Radical Childhoods Jessica Gerrard takes up this challenge by theoretically considering how education might contribute to radical social change, alongside an in-depth comparative historical enquiry. Attending to the shifting nature of class, race, and gender relations in British society, this book offers a thoughtful account of two of the most significant community-based schooling initiatives in British history: the Socialist Sunday School (est. 1892) and Black Saturday/Supplementary School (est. 1967) movements. Part I situates Radical Childhoods within contemporary policy and practice contexts, before turning to critical social theory to consider the possibility for ‘emancipatory’ education. Offering detailed analyses of archival material and oral testimony, Parts II and III chronicle the social histories of the Socialist Sunday School and Black Saturday/Supplementary School movements, including their endeavour to create alternative cultures of radical education and their contested relationships to the state and wider socialist and black political movements. Radical Childhoods argues that despite appearing to be on the ‘margins’ of the ‘public sphere’, these schools were important sites of political struggle. In Part IV, Gerrard develops upon Nancy Fraser’s conception of counter-publics to argue for a more reflexive understanding of the role of education in social change, accounting for the shifting boundaries of public struggle, as well as confronting normative (and gendered) notions of ‘what counts’ as political struggle.

A governmental analysis

Recent years have witnessed a burgeoning international literature which seeks to analyse the construction of health and health policy through an analytical lens drawn from post-Foucauldian ideas of governmentality. This book is the first to apply the theoretical lens of post-Foucauldian governmentality to an analysis of health problems, practices, and policy in Ireland. Drawing on empirical examples related to childhood, obesity, mental health, smoking, ageing and others, it explores how specific health issues have been constructed as problematic and in need of intervention in the Irish State. The book focuses specifically on how Jean Jacques Rousseau's critical social theory and normative political theory meet as a conception of childhood. The 'biosocial' apparatus has recently been reconfigured through a policy framework called Healthy Ireland, the purpose of which is to 'reduce health inequalities' by 'empowering people and communities'. Child fatness continues to be framed as a pervasive and urgent issue in Irish society. In a novel departure in Irish public health promotion, the Stop the Spread (STS) campaign, free measuring tapes were distributed throughout Ireland to encourage people to measure their waists. A number of key characteristics of neoliberal governmentality, including the shift towards a market-based model of health; the distribution of power across a range of agents and agencies; and the increasing individualisation of health are discussed. One of the defining features of the Irish health system is the Universal Health Insurance and the Disability Act 2005.

consideration of the relationship between education and the struggle against inequality and injustice. By accepting that ‘emancipation’ cannot be a ‘full’ or total theory, but reliant on the social actors who evoke its imaginary, emancipation’s conceptual usefulness lies within its inherent partiality.23 At a very general level, ‘emancipatory’ theory, practice and education refer to a reflexive questioning and interrogation of existing social relations; or, to use Marx’s definition of a critical social theory, ‘a self-understanding of the age concerning its struggles and

in Radical childhoods
Children’s health and biosocial power

figure of the child, this was assembled at the intersection of the biological and the social, the medical and the moral, and to this day remains a way of acting through and upon life with a view to governing the future. This chapter begins by examining the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, focusing specifically on how his critical social theory and his normative political theory meet as a conception of childhood that would come into sharper focus during the nineteenth century, largely through the efforts of 26 Constructing health problems educationalists and

in Reframing health and health policy in Ireland
A poststructural critique

Why adopt a poststructural perspective when reading about the military strategy of national missile defence (NMD)? Certainly, when considering how best to defend the United States against attack by intercontinental ballistic missiles, the value of critical international relations theory may be easy to overlook. So, how might the insight of scholars such as Michel Foucault contribute to our understanding of the decision-making processes behind NMD policy? The deployment of NMD is a sensitive political issue. Official justification for the significance of the NMD system is based upon strategic feasibility studies and conventional threat predictions guided by worst-case scenarios. However, this approach fails to address three key issues: the ambiguous and uncertain nature of the threat to which NMD responds; controversy over technological feasibility; and concern about cost. So, in light of these issues, why does NMD continue to stimulate such considerable interest and secure ongoing investment? Presented as an analysis of discourses on threats to national security – around which the need for NMD deployment is predominately framed – this book argues that the preferences underlying NMD deployment are driven by considerations beyond the scope of strategic approaches and issues. The conventional wisdom supporting NMD is contested using interpretive modes of inquiry provided by critical social theory and poststructuralism, and it is suggested that NMD strategy should be viewed in the context of US national identity. The book seeks to establish a dialogue between the fields of critical international relations theory and US foreign policy.

Social and cultural modernity beyond the nation-state

German philosopher Jürgen Habermas has written extensively on the European Union. This is the only in-depth account of his project. Published now in a second edition to coincide with the celebration of his ninetieth birthday, a new preface considers Habermas’s writings on the eurozone and refugee crises, populism and Brexit, and the presidency of Emmanuel Macron.

Placing an emphasis on the conception of the EU that informs Habermas’s political prescriptions, the book is divided into two main parts. The first considers the unfolding of 'social modernity' at the level of the EU. Among the subjects covered are Habermas's concept of juridification, the latter's affinities with integration theories such as neofunctionalism, and the application of Habermas's democratic theory to the EU. The second part addresses 'cultural modernity' in Europe – 'Europessimism' is argued to be a subset of the broader cultural pessimism that assailed the project of modernity in the late twentieth century, and with renewed intensity in the years since 9/11.

Interdisciplinary in approach, this book engages with European/EU studies, critical theory, political theory, international relations, intellectual history, comparative literature, and philosophy. Concise and clearly written, it will be of interest to students, scholars and professionals with an interest in these disciplines, as well as to a broader readership concerned with the future of Europe

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Waiting for freedom

seekers, trainers and civil servants and engaging with them as ‘ethical subjects’ has allowed me to take seriously the notions of ‘will’, ‘responsibility’ and ‘freedom’. We need to couple critical social theory with an ethnographic attention to ethics in our interpretation of contemporary logics of governance – otherwise we risk misinterpretation of what actually allows particular forms of political power to root. In this Epilogue, my goal is to more firmly establish the importance of reinstating the place of ethical categories like freedom and will in social theory. It

in Politics of waiting

A critical social theory ought to provide a framework for empirical research, argues Habermas – it is not enough to inspire ‘speculative observations’ (Habermas, 1995 : 382). With this in mind, the present chapter assesses data from a series of interviews conducted in 2002 against the background of the Constitutional Convention. 1 This is intended as a preliminary test of the accounts of social and cultural modernity elaborated thus far. Habermas’s conception of the EU would be called into question if the

in Habermas and European integration

8 The conceptual landscape of the Constitutional Convention A critical social theory ought to provide a framework for empirical research, argues Habermas – it is not enough to inspire ‘speculative observations’ (Habermas, 1995: 382). With this in mind, the present chapter assesses data from a series of interviews conducted in 2002 against the background of the Constitutional Convention.1 This is intended as a preliminary test of the accounts of social and cultural modernity elaborated thus far. Habermas’s conception of the EU would be called into question if the

in Habermas and European Integration (second edition)
Open Access (free)

We are grateful to the Centre for Critical Social Theory at the University of Sussex for supporting this conference. 2 Although, in Germany, opposing attacks on Iraq helped win votes for the SPD and the Greens.

in The Third Way and beyond