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Re: [xmca] Jones on 'value' of Learning and intensified/enhanced labour under capitalism

Well I think it's not so much a problem (for us) of how the ruling classes can stay 'uncritical' about social questions while exercising 'problem solving skills' - Gramsci has already told us that it is about hegemony, i.e., giving everyone a share of the social product - but how we can develop Activity Theory in way that undercutsmethods of thinking which deny the roots of problems in social questions, which never appeals to abstractions like 'society' or any kind of 'we' which is standing outside and above everyone else. I think Activity Theory is well placed to confront such problems.


Julian Williams wrote:

Exactly - so we are in Gramscian territory: there is a struggle over values in education that has its roots in class struggle, but is 'refracted' by layers of cultural-ideological-political mediation, in which ultimately the State (and the political field) plays a key role. A key question then for education seems to be - how is it possible for the technocracy to stay 'uncritical' about social questions while exercising 'problem solving skills' in their 'labour' of evaluation, design and development, e.g. of: software; traffic systems; hospital management systems that don't kill people unnecessarily often; and derivatives etc that don't meltdown the financial system...? Especially at the present (Greece, Occupations, etc) ...
I venture several factors that seem relevant, especially to the orderly middle classes: fear (many have still a long way down to go), compartmentalisation (I can be critical on weekends...), alienation from others in trouble (I don't feel like the sort of person who 'riots' or strikes), etc.


-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Andy Blunden
Sent: 04 November 2011 10:35
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Cc: P.E.Jones@shu.ac.uk
Subject: Re: [xmca] Jones on 'value' of Learning and intensified/enhanced labour under capitalism

I think this is a contradiction of development for capitalism, Julian, one of those instances where capitalism acts as a brake on the development of the forces of production. In general the contradiction is solved by differentiation in the schooling system. In the Olden Days the sons of the ruling class were Educated at Eton and Harrow, while the sons and daughters of the workign class were beaten into shape in Bethnal Green Primary School. As I recall, even the post-WW2 Labour government took care to maintain a differentiated system of public schooling. Nowadays, maintaining that differentiation becomes more and more contested and difficult, with the kind of moving goal posts that Bourdiueu describes so well.

But one thing that capitalism does not want in its education system is *critique*, so the training of artists, software dewsignes and managers is a delicate matter, the arena for much struggle.


Julian Williams wrote: ...
But I also had in mind that labourers skills and knowledge might be enhanced for other purposes than merely the exchange value of their labour in the labour market /wages... in particular that of 'literacy' and the power of critique. This raises other dimension of 'the values' of labour power more widely: now the issue becomes largely ideological, and the educational field becomes a site for contesting educational values of 'compliance' versus 'critique'.  There seems to be a contradiction here: while the State would like to ensure 'compliance' in general (for the majority) still there is a (perhaps growing?) role for 'creatives', critical thinkers and problem solvers in production....?

What does anyone think?

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*Andy Blunden*
Joint Editor MCA: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/hmca20/18/1
Home Page: http://home.mira.net/~andy/
Book: http://www.brill.nl/default.aspx?partid=227&pid=34857

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