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The Sociology of Education as the History of the Present: Fabrication, Difference and Abjection

by Florent Bick last modified 2010-11-10 13:51


University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Sociology of Education as the History of the Present: Fabrication, Difference and Abjection

The focus is the autonomous subjects of research. The study of youth is one such example. It is a subject given an independent existence by which sociology orders and organizes the study of schooling, crime, family, community, among others. I ask about “the reason” that orders and classifies the autonomous spaces of research through exploring the social sciences as fabricating human kinds. Fabrication has a double nuance: youth is a particular kind of human that serves as a fiction in research to respond to the [ontic] world that seems troubling and in need of some social/psychological ‘fixing’; and simultaneously youth is manufactured as a human kind, the second of sense of fabrication. Narratives, theories, and programs are socially produced to order biographies. This double nuance of fabrication is a strategy for engaging in what might be called ‘the new materialism’. Ironically, the study of fabrication works at the intersection of history, philosophy, political and cultural studies and a sociology of knowledge indebted to French literature read in the US. That literature is deployed to challenge the doxa of philosophical theories of representation in analytical and structural traditions of social science.

Historically, I argue that youth as an autonomous subject of research is a social practice about how to think about kinds of people, ways of acting on particular populations, and ways that people are to act for themselves. Methodologically, I focus on that sovereign subject of research as an “event” to consider the conditions that make visible the objects of research visible. The first section examines the fabrication of human kinds as a practice generating cultural theses about modes of living and the possibilities of life itself. Notions of agency, freedom, empowerment, and “voice”, for example, never exist by themselves but assembled in particular sets of principles that govern who the subject is and should be. The second section explores the making of human kinds as historically inscribing comparative styles of thought. That comparative style of reason, I argue, produces difference, divisions and abjections in the name of governing for equality.

Education et sociétés
Numéro 21
Former des élites dans un monde incertain
Coordonné par Yves Dutercq
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Association internationale des sociologues de langue françaiseComité de recherche n °7 Éducation, Formation, Socialisation
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