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Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Education in Democratization


Erwin H. Epstein and Noel F. McGinn

However important the school may be as a vehicle to institutionalize and perpetuate democracy, it has been largely ignored by contemporary scholars of democratization especially in developing and formerly socialist countries. Rather, their focus has been almost exclusively on the political consequences of economic reform programs and on external contexts for political change. This set of two volumes draws on new research as well as established classics in helping to fill the gap and map out useful directions for comparative inquiry on the role of education in democratization.
Part 1:
The first volume, on "Transitional States and States of Transition", focuses on the global limits of education in democratization, transitions from centralized authority, postcolonial transitions, transitions under socialism, and transitions from socialism.
Part 2:
All modern nations rely on a fundamental human need of belonging to capture citizens’ allegiance, and they do so largely through the agency of schools. States pursue this goal in ways congenial to the political culture: authoritarian nations will normally have authoritarian schools, and democratic ones will have democratic schools. Yet governments vary in their willingness and ability to enjoin schools in pursuit of their goals. And, they vary in their ability to define clearly the school’s function, in furnishing school people with a secure road map in pursuing democracy. Even when objectives are expressed clearly, conditions are not always conducive to carrying them out, and the very condition of social change – when overarching goals are being reset and are therefore plausibly obscure to everyday citizens – may hinder schools in their role as instrument of democratization. This book, the second of a two-volume set, addresses issues of democratization by viewing the place of education in government designs for dealing with change, especially in terms of the character of the society being governed: its quest for a national identity, its ethnic composition, its religion(s), and its empowerment of women.