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Educating for Democratic Consciousness

Counter-Hegemonic Possibilities

Series:

Ali A. Abdi and Paul R. Carr

This book has received the AESA (American Educational Studies Association) Critics Choice Award 2013.
There is a widespread, but mainly untenable, assumption that education in Western societies (and elsewhere) intuitively and horizontally aids the democratic development of people. An argument could be made that in contemporary liberal democracies, education was never designed for the well-being of societies. Instead of the full inclusion of everyone in educational development, it becomes dominated by those with a vested interest in the role of the liberal state as a mediating agent that, ultimately, assures the supremacy of the capitalism and neoliberalism. This book extends beyond a theoretical analysis of democratic education, seeking to tap into the substantial experiences, perspectives and research of a wide range of leading scholars from diverse vantage points, who bring themselves and their work into the debate connecting democracy and education, which elucidates the reference to counter-hegemonic possibilities in the title.
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Chapter 11. Education and Democracy under Neoliberal Knowledge Imperialism | M. Ayaz Naseem & Adeela Arshad-Ayaz

Extract

In his groundbreaking essay “A Structural Theory of Imperialism” (1971), Johan Galtung1 notes that “instead of seeing democracy as a consequence or a condition for economic development within certain nations it can also be seen as a condition for exercising effective control over periphery nations” (p. 100). He further argues that “precisely because the Centre is (supposedly) more egalitarian and democratic…there will be more people in the Centre who feel they have a stake in the present state of affairs…and this will make it even less likely that the periphery in the Centre will really join with the periphery in the Periphery against the two centres” (p. 100).

In other words the exploitation of the developing nations and their resources benefit not only the elite in the developed countries but also, by default, all other strata of the society. Thus, to presume that the developed countries would have interest in promoting democracy or democratic practices in the Global South is a flawed assumption to begin with. Historically, the West has predominantly sided with the undemocratic regimes and forces in the developing world. Such support has always been justified through the murky realpolitik notion of national interests. However, of late we see the West, led by the United States, supporting albeit selectively democratic change in the Global South. This raises the question: Is there a genuine change of heart in the center nations? Relatedly, what are the real intentions behind the support for change in the developing...

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