Chapter 4: Constructivist and Inclusive Education: Exclusion and the Present Crisis of Democracy

Jim Garrison, Stefan Neubert


This chapter combines perspectives of Deweyan philosophy and education with Zygmunt Bauman’s sociological approach. It addresses the present deep crisis of democracy represented by renascent nationalism and right-wing populism in many places around the globe. Among other things, we explore Bauman’s account of liquid modernity with a special eye on his critical views on the ambivalence of communities in contemporary life. First, we argue that inclusive education in a Deweyan sense must be base on civil and hospitable communities. Second, we use Bauman to explain some important characteristics of exclusive as opposed to democratic communities. Third, we discuss some of the main strategies of exclusion that lead, according to Bauman, to a loss of civil spaces in liquid modernity. We interpret them as challenges and risks that Deweyan democracy has to face in the world of today. Fourth, we adopt Bauman’s idea of explosive communitites and use it to analyse some of the more dramatic and violent dangers to democracy that are involved by contemporary extreme nationalist and right-wing populist policies. Fifth, we draw implications for democracy and education by identifying some strategies to counter these dangers and to enable and facilitate new ways of liquid learning in liquid times. We discuss six necessary aspects and qualities of learning communities that seem appropriate to this end. Throughout the essay, we show, from a Deweyan perspective, that the development from solid to liquid modernity, as depicted by Bauman, has taken a new and unexpected turn, again, in the course of the very last years.

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International Research in Higher Education  ISSN 2380-9183 (Print)  ISSN 2380-9205 (Online)

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