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Critical Realism and Education
Call for Papers, Conference, London, July 2008

A Call For Papers for a conference keen to embrace and engage with those using Bourdieu's ideas:

International Conference: ‘Critical Realism and Education’
July 18, 19 and 20, 2008
at the University of London Institute of Education

In recent years there has been growing interest in the interface between critical realism and education, which makes this conference especially timely.
Education is central to the critical realist project. On the other hand, critical realism is still, relatively speaking, a newcomer in the field of education and education studies, and only too rarely explicitly utilized in research or thematized in teaching.

There are a range of approaches, especially those using the theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Basil Bernstein, that are being fruitfully used in educational research.  These traditions have built up a rich understanding of many aspects of education, and are compatible in many ways with critical realist ideas.

Critical realism offers the ontological means of overcoming the choice between positivism and constructivism or postmodern relativism.  Other approaches, sich as Bourdieuan and Bernsteinian frameworks, offer the conceptual means of engaging with concrete educational contexts and practices.  Together they can provide a formidable and sophisticated way of thinking about, understanding and changing education. 

However, until now these traditions have often remained separate.  The conference aims to begin to repair this situation.

A large part of the first day being given over to a short course, led by Roy Bhaskar, developing the basic principles of critical realism, with education especially in mind. This part of the conference programme will include working parallel sessions in which conference participants can gain familiarity with critical realist ideas and concepts. 

The bulk of the conference will address the development of a mediating level of theory and description between philosophy and the day-to-day concerns of educational practice and research. Throughout, the conference will attempt to initiate, develop and enrich a two-way interaction between critical realist philosophy and educational practice and research. Parallel workshop sessions, in which individual participants present and discuss their papers, will be interwoven with plenary sessions, in which distinguished speakers from the fields of critical realism and education studies will address topics of interest to all. A full list of confirmed speakers will be announced shortly.

Among the strands or themes which will occupy the parallel sessions are: philosophy and research methods; emancipation and the ends of education; sociology of knowledge and education; Bernstein, Bourdieu and implicit critical realism; interdisciplinarity; geography and education; historical explanation and education; religion and education; science education; Marxism; and Vygotsky.

The topics discussed in the conference will include a comparison of critical realism and social realism; consideration of explicit ex ante versus implicit critical realism; the topology of educational studies; the relationship between quantitative and qualitative methods; the nature of educational practices and the tension between the emancipatory orientation of education and the contemporary marketization of education. More detailed articulations of conference themes and topics will follow.

Deadline to send abstracts is 1st June 2008.

Please send your abstracts and any queries about the call for papers to Roy Bhaskar: r.bhaskar@ioe.ac.uk

For all other queries or for further details about the conference please contact James McSean: fpsadmin3@ioe.ac.uk

See: www.ioe.ac.uk/conferences/criticalrealism
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