One of the most challenging questions of today concerns how human activities threaten the conditions for our very own existence. With one crisis leading into the next, the need for socio-political change is necessary and desirable, yet so hard to imagine in practice. At the heart of the matter is a deeper crisis of the socio-political imagination.
To understand how a society produces and changes itself, Ingerid S. Straume points to historical and contemporary institutions and the imaginaries they embody, and argues that the key to social creativity is found in the reflexive potential of institutions, especially politics and education. Neoliberal rationality, on its part, has become dominant in many parts of the world, precisely by occulting the socio-political capacity for self-reflection. This occultation takes place in academic theories, policy reforms, technologies, and in individuals’ self-understanding. In response to the planetary eco-crises and the weakening of democratic ideals, a new approach is needed where collectives, not individuals in isolation, become the mode for living well within existing, natural limits.
Inspired by important political thinkers such as Cornelius Castoriadis and Hannah Arendt, How Does a Society Change? develops a theoretical framework to elucidate how politics and education are two interrelated domains wherein a society may openly reflect upon itself. In short, a society that recognizes its capacity to change itself also recognizes the transformative, instituting potential of politics and education.
Ingerid S. Straume is professor in education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. Her research is mostly interdisciplinary, spanning political and educational thought related to questions such as environmental politics, climate change, and depoliticization of the public sphere. Straume has published articles, book chapters, and books in English and Norwegian.
Introduction: Political-Educational Questioning
Chapter 1: The Politics of Education
Chapter 2: Educational Imaginaries: From Investment to Question
Chapter 3: Conceptions of Education and Why It Matters
Chapter 4: Political Imaginaries of Democracy and Citizenship
Chapter 5: Extraordinary Politics, Extraordinary Education, or: How Does a Society Change?
About the Author
How Does a Society Change? dynamically and fruitfully contributes to acknowledging the complex role of educational matters in social imaginaries and societal change. In this compelling work, Ingerid Straume astutely points up the deeply political character of education and its inextricable connection to democracy. Straume’s valuable book offers rich accounts of current crises of the social imagination and apposite, critical explorations of neoliberal detrimental effects on democratic politics, while also pertinently reconstructing the educational normativity that serves the self-reflexive renewal of social institutions.
Erudite, wide-ranging, thoughtful, and committed: Ingerid Straume's reflections raise the level of debate about democratic politics and education and lead it towards addressing the urgencies of our time.
Ingerid Straume’s book is a vigorous and original proposal to integrate the philosophy of education into political philosophy, backed up by a well-informed polemic against dominant misconceptions, both neo-liberal and pseudo-radical. Its main message is that a defence of democracy requires a thorough rethinking of approaches to education.