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Toolkits, Translation Devices and Conceptual Accounts

Essays on Basil Bernstein’s Sociology of Knowledge


Parlo Singh, Alan R. Sadovnik and Susan F. Semel

For over four decades, Basil Bernstein researched ‘the internal organisation and educational context of the school’ specifically, and educational systems generally. In particular, he was interested in the powerful forms of knowledge transmitted through schooling systems; who gained access to these forms of knowledge; how they did so; and with what consequences. His research began by examining the differences between language and communication patterns in the institutions of the home/family and of the school, and extended to examining the structuring of pedagogic discourse from the level of the state to the classroom.
This collection brings together chapters by researchers from South Africa, Portugal, the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia, to build on the theoretical concepts developed by Bernstein to explore issues of access and acquisition to school knowledge. In addition, contributors explore the strengths and limitations of Bernstein’s work for understanding the structuring of educational institutions, as well as the potential of the theory for assisting educators to make a difference in the lives of students.


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Chapter 15: Pedagogic Translations: Dominant Pedagogic Modes and Teacher Professional Identity 249


INTRODUCTION The issue of teacher professional identity under conditions of global knowledge cap- italism has received extensive attention in recent times. Much of the literature has argued that there is a need for more teacher autonomy and advocated for an agen- da variously described as ‘informed professionalism’ (Barber, 2002), ‘democratic pro- fessionalism’ (Whitty, 2006) and ‘activist professionalism’ (Avis, 2005, Sachs, 2000). At the same time, a number of educational researchers have proposed that the emer- gence of new forms of liquid global capitalism demand new modes of pedagogy, variously described as ‘globalizing’ (McCarthy and Dimitriades, 2000), ‘productive’ (Lingard and Mills, 2002) and ‘reconciliation’ (Hattam, 2004). In this chapter, we summarise Basil Bernstein’s theories of the totally pedagogised society and peda- gogic modalities and ask what these theoretical concepts have to offer the debates about teacher professional identity under conditions of liquid modernity (Bauman, 2004; Urry, 2003). In doing so, we challenge some of the assertions made in the pre- vious chapter that Bernsteinian concepts have little empirical relevance (see Power, this volume). C H A P T E R F I F T E E N PARLO SINGH AND JESSICA HARRIS Pedagogic Translations Dominant Pedagogic Modes and Teacher Professional Identity Sadovnik_12 to end.qxd 2/11/2010 12:33 PM Page 249 GLOBAL KNOWLEDGE SOCIET Y, PERFORMATIVITY AND UNCERTAINTY A number of theorists have written about the knowledge or information society and economy (see for example, Uluorta and Quill, 2009). These theorists argue that we live in new historical times characterised by...

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