ABC: The Alphabetizaton of the Popular Mind by Ivan Illich, Barry Sanders

By Ivan Illich, Barry Sanders

In ABC... thinker and cultural analyst Ivan Illich and medieval pupil and literary critic Barry Sanders have produced an unique, meticulous and provocative research of the appearance, unfold and current decline of literacy. They discover he influence of the alphabet on primary proposal approaches and attitudes, on reminiscence, on political groupings and religous and cultural expectancies. Their exam of the current erosion of literacy within the new technological languages of 'newspeak' and 'uniquack' and so they indicate how new attitudes to language are changing our global view our feel of self and of group.

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Further, the principle of emancipation is extended from that of classwhich still retains is strategic place in social struggleto other sources of potential domination and/or exploitation, including gender, race, and religion, as well as the complex of issues relating to self-sustaining economic development and peace (as expressed in the ecology and peace movements). All these sociological frameworks seem to share a basic understanding of reproduction processes in capitalist societies. However, they have striking differences among themselves regarding both their elaboration of the notion of reproduction as well as their analytical logic-in-use in producing research findings in education.

Of importance here is not so much the theory of automata, which is rather distant from social reality, as "recent conceptions of cellular self-reproduction (autopoiesis) ... The chief point of connection is undoubtedly recursiveness, taken to characterize autopoietic organization" (1979: 75). Unlike the earlier biological models, autopolesis includes the possibility of a theory of system contradiction. Further, Giddens makes a distinction between two levels of reproduction processes in system integration: the homeostatic model of self-regulation found in traditional functionalism (which is redefined as homeostatic causal loops), and the type of reflexive self-regulation where "occur processes of selective 'information filtering' whereby strategically placed actors seek reflexively to reg- Page 9 ulate the overall conditions of system reproduction either to keep things as they are or to change them" (1984: 2728).

At times we will address or allude to such research where it has had a strategic impact upon theoretical debate, but our focus of attention lies elsewhere: the origins and theoretical structure and presuppositions of the theories in question, as well as their comparison and general evaluation from a broader historical and comparative perspective. Outline of the Study This book is organized into five parts. Part 1, on "Social Theory and Education," includes this introduction and requires outlining the metatheoretical foundations for such a task, which becomes the basis for a typology of the paradigms of reproduction theory that have influenced debates in education (chapter 2).

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