ERIC Number: EJ681805
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Sep
Reference Count: 0
Education as a "Social Function": Sociology, and Social Theory in the Histories of Brian Simon
Brehony, Kevin J.
History of Education, v33 n5 p545-558 Sep 2004
This article looks at the role of sociology and social theory in a selection from Brian Simon's historical writing. It also discusses his more explicitly methodological texts for, unlike many historians who form the basis for Bourdieu's observation, perhaps because initially he did not see himself as one, he frequently reflected on his theoretical orientation to the practice of history. Brian Simon's attitude towards sociology was sometimes ambivalent and occasionally, when it took the form of the new sociology of education, Marxisant sociology and reproduction theory, it was hostile. Nevertheless, his histories of education make use of concepts like social class and ideology that have for long been at the centre of sociological investigation and theorizing. In the course of focusing the role of sociology and the nature of social theory in Simon's renowned histories of education, the article considers the extent to which his research programme corresponded, on the one hand, to that adumbrated by Sir Fred Clarke in his "Education and Social Change", and on the other, to how far it was distinctively Marxist. The article then examines some of the subsequent critiques of the concept of class by historians as diverse as Gareth Stedman Jones and David Cannadine. It considers the relation between Brian Simon's histories and those of the social historians recently criticized by Popkewitz et al. The article ends with a plea for historians of education to return to the example of Brian Simon and pay more attention to sociology and social theory in general and to collective identities such as class, gender and ethnicity in particular. Arguably, both the formulation of their research questions and the interpretive processes by means of which they produce their narratives would benefit as a result.
Descriptors: Social Change, Historians, Social Class, Educational Sociology, Educational History, Social Theories, Foreign Countries, Ideology
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Publication Type: Information Analyses; Journal Articles
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