If the past devours the future, why study? Piketty, social movements, and future directions for education

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Abstract

Abstract: In 2014, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-first Century rocked the economic and political world, with its argument that inequality is destined to increase; in the field of education, however, this book has been almost entirely ignored. I argue that Piketty’s treatise is relevant to educational theories for three reasons: his rejection of meritocracy contributes to theories of social mobility; his critique of human capital theory provides fodder for debates about educational purpose; and his interdisciplinary analysis supports the political economy tradition in education. However, I also argue that it is necessary to move beyond the economic determinism in Piketty’s arguments, to explore the transformative potential of education as a consciousness-raising process, the agency of communities, the production process, and alternative solutions to inequality. I argue that education scholars should use the renewed interest in inequality generated by Piketty’s book to shift the dominant discourses about education, schools, and social justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)861-872
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology of Education
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 17 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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