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Social Theory and Education Policy: The Legacy of Karl Mannheim

Geoff Whitty
British Journal of Sociology of Education
Vol. 18, No. 2 (1997), pp. 149-163
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1393187
Page Count: 15
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Social Theory and Education Policy: The Legacy of Karl Mannheim
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Abstract

This paper looks back at the career of the sociologist Karl Mannheim, who died 50 years ago. It considers how far Mannheim's work remains relevant and discusses what lessons it may still have to offer. Quoting Sir Fred Clarke as saying that educational theory and education policy that took no account of changes in the wider social order would be not only blind but positively harmful, the paper suggests that a similar case applies today. It therefore remains essential that Mannheim's legacy is preserved and that the sociological imagination is exercised in relation to contemporary education policy and education research. In the light of Mannheim's own shift from diagnosing the crisis to prescribing the remedies, the paper also reflects on how far it is legitimate for sociologists of education to make such a move. Finally, the paper considers how Mannheim's notion of planning for democracy might be superseded by more genuinely democratic forms of education policy-making in the aftermath of current neo-liberal policies of deregulation.

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