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Institue for Education Policy Studies


Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory

(March 2002. Published by Lexington Books)

Edited by Dave Hill, Peter McLaren, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski


Postmodernism has become the orthodoxy in educational theory. It heralds the end of grand theories like Marxism and liberalism, scorning any notion of a united feminist challenge to patriachy, of united anti-racist struggle, and of united working-class movements against capitalist exploitation and oppression. For postmodernists, the world is fragmented, history is ended, and all struggles are local and particularistic. Written by internationally renowned British and American educational theorists Marxism Against Postmodernism in Educational Theory--a substantially revised edition of the original 1999 work Postmodernism in Educational Theory--critically examines the infusion of postmodernism and theories of postmodernity into educational theory, policy, and research. The writers argue that postmodernism provides neither a viable educational politics, nor the foundation for effective radical educational practice and offer an alternative 'politics of human resistance' which puts the challenge to capitalism firmly on the agenda of educational theory, politics, and practice.

(description © Lexington Books web site)



Dave Hill, Peter McLaren, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski
1 Postmodernism in Educational Theory
Glenn Rikowski and Peter McLaren
2 Prelude: Marxist Educational Theory after Postmodernism
Glenn Rikowski
3 Breaking Signifying Chains: A Marxist Position on Postmodernism
Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur
4 Structuring the Postmodern in Education Policy
Michael W. Apple and Geoff Whitty
5 Resistance Postmodernism: Progressive Politics or Rhetorical Left Posturing?
Mike Cole and Dave Hill
6 Education, Capital and the Transhuman
Glenn Rikowski
7 Youth, Training and the Politics of 'Cool'
Michael Neary
8 Marxism, Class Analysis and Postmodernism
Dave Hill, Mike Sanders and Ted Hankin
9 Racism, Postmodernism and the Flight from Class
Jenny Bourne
10 Postmodernism and Feminism: the Road to Nowhere
Jane Kelly
11 Critical Pedagogy, Postmodernism, and the Retreat from Class: Toward a Contraband Pedagogy
Peter McLaren and Ramin Farahmandpur
12 Postmodernism Adieu: Toward a Politics of Human Resistance
Peter McLaren, Dave Hill, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski
About the Contributors

Michael W. Apple is John Bascom Professor of Curriculum and Instruction and Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. A former elementary and secondary school teacher and past‑president of a teachers union, he has written extensively about the relationship between education and differential power. He has worked with educators, unions, dissident groups, and progressive movements throughout the world to democratize educational research, policy and practice. Among his recent books are Official Knowledge, (1993), Power/Knowledge/Pedagogy (1993), Democratic Schools (1995), Cultural Politics and Education (1996), and Power, Meaning, Identity (1999).

Jenny Bourne is a sociologist who has written and lectured on the sociology of race relations, and an activist in the women's and anti-racist movements. She was a member of Women Against Racism and Fascism and Women in Black, and has written Towards an anti-racist feminism and Homelands of the Mind: Jewish feminism and Identity Politics. She is a founder member of the collective that currently produces CARF (the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, ( She has acted as consultant to educational initiatives on anti-racism from those of the GLC (Greater London Council) and the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work to the Homebeats CDROM. She works as a senior researcher at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) ( At the IRR, her most recent publications are Counting the Cost: Racial Violence since MacPherson (2001) and “The Life and Times of Institutional Racism,” in The Three Faces of British Racism (2001).

Mike Cole is Senior Lecturer and Research and Publications Mentor in the School of Education, University of Brighton, U.K. He has written extensively on equality issues; in particular, equality and education. In recent years he has engaged in critiques of postmodernism, globalization and education. Mike has edited Bowles and Gintis Revisited (1988), The Social Contexts of Schooling (1989), Education for Equality (1990), Migrant Labour in the European Union (1999), Education, Equality and Human Rights (2000) and Professional Issues for Teachers and Student Teachers (1999). With Dave Hill, Mike co-edited Promoting Equality in Primary Schools (1997), Promoting Equality in Secondary Schools (1999) and Schooling and Equality: Fact, Concept and Policy (2001). His most recent book, co-written with Dave Hill, Peter McLaren and Glenn Rikowski, is Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics (2001). Mike co-founded in Britain the Hillcole Group of radical Left educators, writers and propagandists, with Dave Hill in 1989. He is a labor union activist. (Contact:

Ramin Farahmandpur is a doctoral candidate at the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. A former middle school teacher in Los Angeles, he is now a lecturer at the Charter School of Education at California State University, Los Angeles. Farahmandpur has co‑authored a number of articles with Peter McLaren on a variety of topics, ranging from globalization, neoliberalism, critical pedagogy and critical multiculturalism, in scholarly journals such as Educational Researcher, Journal of Teacher Education, Multicultural Education, Educational Policy, Journal of Curriculum Theorizing and Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory. Farahmandpur also works with UCLA's teacher education program. Currently, he is co‑authoring a book with Peter McLaren entitled Globalization and the New Imperialism: Towards a Revolutionary Pedagogy (2001).

Ted Hankin received a degree in Education from Trent Polytechnic and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham, U.K., where he studied the base and superstructure question in Marxist theory. On a national level, Ted supports the Leninist metanarrative; he has written fairly extensively for sections of the Leninist press. On a local level, he has been involved with a claimants action group for some time. He is currently working on (i) a materialist account of the demise of the Soviet Union, concentrating on the failure to continually revolutionize the forces of production partly with reference to Mao's late economic writings, and (ii) notes toward a dialectical theory of truth.

Dave Hill teaches at University College Northampton. Prior to that he taught in schools and colleges in inner city London. For twenty years he was a political and labor union leader. He stood for Parliament for the Labour Party in 1979 and 1987, led the group of Labour councilors on East Sussex County Council, was Regional Higher Education Chair of NATFHE (the lecturer's labor Union), and led and organized many local and regional political campaigns and mobilizations. He advised the Labour Party on teacher education from a radical Left perspective. From a democratic Marxist perspective, he writes on issues of radical Right policy and ideology, New Labour/Third Way ideology and policy, radical Left ideology and policy, social class, state theory, and critiques of postmodernism. With Mike Cole, in 1989, he co-founded the Hillcole Group of radical Left Educators and co-wrote the two Hillcole books on education: Changing the Future: Redprint for Education (1991), and Rethinking Education and Democracy: A Socialist Perspective (1997). With Mike Cole, Dave co-edited Promoting Equality in Primary Schools (1997), Promoting Equality in Secondary Schools (1999) and Schooling and Equality: Fact, Concept and Policy (2001). His most recent book, co-written with Peter McLaren, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski, is Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics. Dave is founder and Director of the independent radical Left policy research unit, the Institute for Education Policy Studies (founded in 1989), whose web site is <>. (Contact: or

Jane Kelly is Principal Lecturer in the School of Art and Design History at Kingston University, where she teaches art history, art theory and women's studies. Her current research interests are in critical theory and methodology from a Marxist perspective, in relation to both art history and feminism. She is the author of several articles on the relationship between feminism and postmodernism, on feminist art history and on contemporary art practice. Jane has been politically active since the late 1970s in socialist and feminist politics. She is currently active in the Socialist Alliance in the London borough of Southwark; on the management committee of the Southwark Day Centres for Asylum Seekers and is a long‑term member of the International Socialist Group (British Section of the Fourth International) whose paper, Socialist Outlook, she writes for.

Peter McLaren is Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. He worked for six years as a public school teacher in his native Toronto, Canada, where he also served as a journalist for the teachers union, authoring a regular column, “Inner City Insight.” After teaching for a year in the College of Education at Brock University, St.Catherines, Canada, McLaren moved to the United States, where he has worked since 1985. He is former Director of the Center for Education and Cultural Studies at Miami University of Ohio, where he also held the position of Renowned Scholar-in-Residence in the School of Education and Allied Professions. Peter McLaren is author and editor of over thirty books on the sociology of education, critical theory, and critical pedagogy. His most recent books include: Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics, co-written with Dave Hill, Mike Cole and Glenn Rikowski (2001), Schooling as a Ritual Performance (1999), Revolutionary Multiculturalism (1997) and Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution (2000). McLaren's books have been translated into twelve languages. He lectures worldwide on the politics of liberation. McLaren is currently working on an introductory book on Karl Marx (with Rudolfo Torres and Lou Miron) and a book on globalization and imperialism (with Ramin Farahmandpur). He is a member of the California Consortium of Critical Educators and the Paulo Friere Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Contact:

Michael Neary is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick, Coventry, U.K. He previously worked with the young unemployed and young offenders on projects in south London, which included being Director of Wandsworth Youth Development and Education Officer for the Inner London Probation Service. His most recent publications include his edited collection (with Ana Dinerstein) Global Humanisation: Studies in the Manufacture of Labour (1999), Money and the Human Condition with Graham Taylor (1998), and Training and the Training State: the Real History of Youth Training in the Twentieth Century (1997). With Ana Dinerstein, he is currently editing The Labour Debate: the theory and reality of capitalist work.

Glenn Rikowski, was Senior Research Fellow in Lifelong Learning, Faculty of Education, University of Central England in Birmingham from 1999-2001, and Research Fellow in the School of Education, University of Birmingham, 1994-1999. Prior to that, Glenn taught in schools and in further education colleges. He held Visiting Lectureships at the University of North London, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of London, Institute of Education in the early 1990s. Currently (2002) he is Visiting Lecturer at University College Northampton. His Ph.D. research (1989) was on the recruitment of engineering apprentices. Glenn's subsequent research included studies on working students, college finance, vocational education and training, youth labor markets and Education Action Zones. He has worked on research projects for the OECD, FEDA and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. In 1999, he undertook a major study of the U.K. horological industry for The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, with special reference to horological training. In the last few years, Rikowski has written numerous articles and conference papers on Marxist educational theory, labor power, lifelong learning, time and speed. He co-wrote Red Chalk: on Schooling, Capitalism and Politics with Dave Hill, Peter McLaren and Mike Cole (2001). His most recent publication is The Battle for Seattle:Its Significance for Education (2001). He is an Associate of the Institute for Education Policy Studies. (Contact:

Mike Sanders is a lecturer in the Department of English at Lancaster University, U.K. He has edited a four‑volume anthology entitled Women and Radicalism in the Nineteenth Century (2001) and has published articles on aspects of early Victorian culture in Victorian Literature and Culture, Victorian Poetry and Women: A Cultural Review. He is currently at work on a study of Chartist poetry, due to be published by Ashgate in 2002. Mike is one of the founders of the Radical Tradition network, which is dedicated to the study of the literature of labor.

Geoff Whitty is Director of the London University Institute of Education. He was formerly the Karl Mannheim Professor of Sociology of Education at the London Institute of Education since 1992, and became Dean of Research there in September 1998. He publishes widely in academic and professional journals. Among his books are Sociology and School Knowledge (1985), The State and Private Education, with Tony Edwards and John Fitz, (1989), Specialisation and Choice in Urban Education, with Tony Edwards and Sharon Gewirtz (1993). His most recent book, with Sally Power and David Halpin, is Devolution and Choice in Education: the School, the State and the Market (1998). Geoff's main areas of research and scholarship are in the sociology of the school curriculum, education policy, teacher education and health education. He has directed ESRC‑funded research projects on the impact of education policies and is frequently engaged by local education authorities to evaluate policies at local level. These currently include a health‑promoting school initiative and a pilot Education Action Zone.