SOCIAL CHANGE AND EDUCATION IN GREECE: A STUDY IN CLASS STRUGGLE DYNAMICS – A NEW BOOK BY SPYROS THEMELIS
A New Book by Spyros Themelis, MiddlesexUniversity
Social Change and Education in Greece: A Study in Class Struggle Dynamics (2013, Palgrave
Macmillan, New York)
This book takes a challenging and refreshingly novel approach to the way education and social mobility are researched and theorised. The key message it delivers goes against the dominant post-war orthodoxy, which has postulated that education is both a mechanism for upward social mobility and an engine for economic growth in liberal capitalist countries. The conclusion the author reaches flies in the face of mainstream political consensus that perceives social mobility as panacea for the provision of occupational opportunities and an instrument for the levelling of the playing field. Much of what lays beneath social mobility, Spyros Themelis argues (apart from a great deal of sophisticated number-crunching) is a celebration and acceptance of an unequal system of allocation of opportunities.
This is one among very few studies that explore social mobility and attendant processes with the use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. The author views social mobility not merely as the outcome of the movements of individuals from one income or occupational group into another, detached from their societal, community and family context, as in conventional mobility studies. Instead, he examines social mobility as a complex process, where socio-economic (e.g. migration), cultural (e.g. marital practices and community values) and political (e.g. political patronage) forces, experiences, arrangements and strategies interact and interconnect in impeding or enhancing individuals’ and families’ social mobility movements.
The book makes some contribution to the ongoing debate about the economic crisis that has hit Greece since 2009. It suggests that the failure of education to promote equality of opportunities is symptomatic of the failure of the wider system to prioritise fair and equitable arrangements. If Greece’s current situation is to teach us a lesson, this is to urgently rethink about the whole system, not only in Greece but in the rest of the Western world too. The myth of education-based meritocracy and unfettered social mobility has anaesthetised Western societies to the multitude of social inequalities with which they are permeated. These might be hard times, but all the more appropriate to urge us to think about positive social change.
Dr Spyros Themelis is a Senior Lecturer in Education, Department of Education, Middlesex University, UK.
The book can be ordered from this link: http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=537469
It is published in the Palgrave Macmillan Marxism and Education Series: http://www.palgrave.com/products/SearchResults.aspx?s=ME&fid=3658 and http://us.macmillan.com/series/MarxismandEducation
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