ERIC Number: EJ886491
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Reference Count: 7
A Response to Zeus Leonardo's "Critical Empiricism: Reading Data with Social Theory"
Apple, Michael W.
Educational Researcher, v39 n2 p160-161 2010
In this article the author briefly brings up two related conceptual and political areas that Zeus Leonardo and the author might want to discuss further. These concern the status of the language of "resistance" and "agency," terms that play a large part in Leonardo's essay and that are now among the pantheon of accepted political and analytic concepts within critical scholarship. Leonardo and the author differ in that the author wishes to pay considerably more attention to the fact that resistance can be not only contradictory, as Leonardo wisely implies, but also extremely conservative. "Things to come" can also be a retrogressive politics of whiteness--a feeling that, say, White men are the "new oppressed." Or as the author shows elsewhere, "things to come" can involve the belief among a large portion of ultraconservative White Christians that--stealing the language of the African American liberation movements--they too now are the new oppressed. A serious understanding of resistance needs to be grounded in a substantive analysis of the social movements that act on the terrain of this society. And many of the most powerful social movements in society--and the identities that they create--are decidedly "not" progressive. A similar point involves the use of the concept of "agency"--a concept that has taken on a rather iconic status in critical analyses. Its iconic status may not be as deserved as one might think, because it is not as powerful a conceptual lever as some scholars seem to assume. The concept of agency actually functions as a place marker. It refers to a space that one does not yet quite understand. It has the same status as another phrase that has become something of a rhetorical slogan in educational theory and research, saying that "reality is a social construction." That phrase, the author contends, simply reminds one to look for the ways in which people make meaning, a reminder that is so general that it has tended to lose much of its analytic power. What one must ask is: If reality is indeed a social construction (itself a partly overstated and contentious claim), why do certain constructions have the power to resist subversion while others are marginalized and/or disappear?
Descriptors: Whites, Social Theories, Essays, Educational Research, Feedback (Response), Critical Reading
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
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